“Don’t put your education on hold! Consider community college.”
That’s the message from Tidewater Community College alumnus Matt Zimmerman, a rising senior at George Mason University. “With universities going to online learning because of COVID, it’s a good idea to do the math and see that community college makes sense,” Zimmerman said. “I got a great education at TCC and didn’t rack up any debt.”
Zimmerman received TCC’s Outstanding High School Scholarship, which includes free tuition and fees for four semesters of full-time study.
The recent Hickory High graduate earned an Associate of Science in Business Administration after achieving a 4.0 GPA.
“I can’t say enough about my experience at TCC,” he added. “My professors were passionate about their subjects and took the time to provide an individual approach to learning.”
Zimmerman credits advisor Holly Desteli with helping him learn to balance college and life and keeping him on track with his degree plan.
“My absolute favorite thing about TCC was the open culture and the student center, a place made for connecting with peers,” he added.
The Chesapeake Student Center includes plenty of space for studying and relaxing and even includes a piano.
Zimmerman was a leader for Student Government Association and officer for TCC CARES, a community service club. He founded the Philosophy Club and was treasurer of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative youth organization.
He also volunteered for the Up to Us Challenge, which brings awareness about the national debt to campus. Through that involvement, he was offered a summer internship with the federal Department of Transportation, where he worked on comparative statistical analysis related to the global shipping industry.
“I got a good look into the professional world in D.C., which was massively different than anything I’d seen before,” he said. “I learned how to work on large projects with real deadlines. More importantly, I learned a set of social skills that you can only gain through experience.”
A high achieving student with low SAT scores, Zimmerman had few options for higher education after high school. But with his TCC degree, Zimmerman was accepted by University of Virginia, William & Mary in addition to George Mason.
Zimmerman is working toward a bachelor’s in philosophy. He is interested in pursuing a law career.
“It was a smooth transition to the four-year school, even though I’ve changed my major three times,” he said.
Zimmerman urges students to use the resources at TCC, including the tutoring and writing centers.
“Reach out for help if you need it,” he said. “Don’t wait to get involved, and don’t waste money on a university when you can start local at one of the best community colleges out there.”