TCC sees enrollment spike

Published 10:20 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On the heels of her announcement that Tidewater Community College is seeing major increases in student enrollment, TCC President Deborah DiCroce is still thrilled with the news.

“The growth has simply been phenomenal,” DiCroce said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “We are seeing just a virtual tsunami of individuals who are looking to us to help them navigate these raging waters of the economy to calmer seas.”

During her State of the College address at the school’s annual Convocation Monday, DiCroce announced that the school has experienced a double-digit enrollment increase for the upcoming fall semester.

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According to a follow-up release from TCC, there is a 25 percent increase in enrollment, compared to this time last year.

“Growth in and of itself is not new for TCC,” DiCroce said. “We’re consistently growing, but what is new is the extent of the growth this year.”

According to the TCC release, there have been increased enrollments from students planning to transfer to four-year institutions, students preparing to enter the workforce and from veterans taking advantage of the new post 9-11 GI Bill.

DiCroce said the cause for higher enrollment is multi-faceted, but the poor economy is the most noticeable contributor.

“One reason is clearly the economy,” she said. “Typically, when the economy goes south, community college enrollment goes north.”

But DiCroce added that other factors, such as the new Post-9/11 GI Bill and President Obama’s recent initiative to give more funding to community colleges, have bolstered support for TCC.

“More than 1,000 individuals enrolling are directly tied to the new GI bill,” DiCroce said. “That, I think, is a driver. That bill allows both the veteran to use the benefit or for the veteran to transfer the benefit to a dependent, whether that is a spouse or a child. We’re seeing that a lot.”

“Additionally, community colleges have been in the news,” DiCroce added. “When the President of the United States shines that bright light on the role that community college have played and are playing in ensuring citizens’ education, that is bound to be capturing the attention of the masses. Offering that validation can only serve to be a value added for us. I think that’s in play.”

While she is excited about the growth, DiCroce said the increase will present new challenges for the school, especially in the wake of budget cuts that have cost the college about $5 million throughout the past several years.

“I’m not going to tell you it’s easy,” DiCroce said. “We’re seeing increasing expectations on the part of the community, on the part of the region and on the part of business and industry for us to deliver. We’re committed to meeting that demand as best we can.”