While night class right before a holiday isn’t enticing for everyone, Taniea Walton, Robert Kinsman, Nelly Zabala and Austin Bartlett wouldn’t consider being absent, even if it is the 3rd of July and the parking lot at the Portsmouth Campus is nearly empty.
The four are on a fast track to their associate degrees thanks to Tidewater Community College’s accelerated option, which allows students to finish all their credits in 12 months.
TCC’s Accelerated Degree program offers students the chance to start their associate degrees and keep going. Classes are year round.
Applications are due July 26 for the next cohort of students. The accelerated program is offered on the Norfolk or Portsmouth campuses only. Some coursework can be completed online.
Walton, Kinsman, Zabala and Bartlett are the first Accelerated Degree graduates from the Portsmouth Campus. They survived the intensive class schedule that started last August thanks to leaning on each other, often through their four-way GroupMe.
“We’ve been helping each other all year,” said Kinsman, 26, in the Navy and on shore duty, who like the rest of his classmates, also holds a job. “I came in on a Tuesday and started classes that Friday. It worked with my Navy schedule.”
Kinsman wants to be an officer in the Navy or go into law. He finishes with an Associate of Science in General Studies.
Zabala, 33, is a Navy veteran who wants to finish school as quickly as possible, making the accelerated option perfect. She enjoyed one of the psychology classes she took so much that she is now planning a future in the field.
She finishes with her Associate of Science in Social Sciences, the same degree as Bartlett and Walton.
Bartlett, 25, juggles his full-time job working for a VDOT contractor with the program, noting that the evening classes make it all possible. “This is the only way I could go to school,” he said. “I knew education would put me further ahead.”
He finishes with his Associate of Science in Social Sciences with plans to eventually pursue a master’s in clinical psychology.
Portsmouth native Walton will transfer to Old Dominion University this fall. The traditional path to an associate didn’t appeal to her because she feared she would procrastinate and take even longer to finish.
“With my schedule – I work all day and I have a 2-year-old – this is very challenging,” she said. “I’ve learned to compartmentalize my life. When I’m in class, I’m all in.”
TCC’s Accelerated Degree is open to new high school graduates and adult learners, including military-related students. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.