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Back to school with College Anywhere VA

Don’t put your future on hold.

Pursue a meaningful career or be transfer-ready for the four-year school of your choice. It’s now even easier to get started with a new tool from Virginia’s Community Colleges, Tidewater Community College is one of 23 community colleges in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS).

College Anywhere VA is an online portal enabling Virginians to find online courses that best meet their needs. In addition to connecting students with high-quality and affordable remote-learning courses, the site connects current and prospective students with advisors, known as College Navigators, who streamline the application and course enrollment process.

Summer classes start May 18 and fall semester begins Aug. 24.

“Our students, especially our high school seniors, have lost so many experiences over the last couple months — no proms, no yearbook exchange, no graduation ceremonies. We owe it to them to provide them with the virtual door to their next educational step,” said Glenn Dubois, VCCS chancellor.

College Anywhere VA provides a transparent view into the 10,000+ online courses offered through Virginia’s community colleges. Depending on student goals, these courses could:

  • count toward an associate degree or certificate program;
  • count toward a degree or certificate program at another institution; or
  • include valuable workforce training programs that prepare students for career credentials.

Virginia’s Community Colleges, including TCC, have guaranteed transfer agreements with dozens of private and public institutions across the commonwealth. Tuition and fees are roughly one-third of the comparable costs at four-year universities.

Student chefs cooking up success at home

Tidewater Community College’s student chefs are cooking in their own kitchens to make the grade.

TCC staffers bought and packed the ingredients students would need to continue their studies at home. The next day, students picked up their supplies in a “drive-by” format while practicing social distancing and staying outside of college buildings.

Chef Amie Burns packing food for students to use with remote learning.

“We chose ingredients and recipes that would work well in a home setting but still emphasize the skills and techniques needed for each course,” explained Deanna Freridge, who is teaching  American Regional Cuisine this semester.

Students picked up their ingredients maintaining social distancing and staying outside college buildings.

TCC chefs Freridge, Carolyn Blackmon and Amie Burns recorded their labs, including a demo on how to prepare your kitchen for home learning. During the first few days, their goodies included cranberry orange scones, cream of broccoli soup and potato and onion knish.

All of the demos are available in Canvas, the college’s learning platform, and on YouTube. Additionally, lectures are offered via Zoom video chat.

 “So far there are no hiccups in the road,” said student chef Valerie DeFreitas. “I’m pleased with how things are going. We received our products in a timely fashion and are now cooking and learning as usual.”

Students receive a checklist of the skills they need to learn for each lab, and then record videos showing themselves completing each recipe. The final step is to upload their videos to Canvas so they earn credit for their work.

Burns encourages students to keep the videos candid. “We just want to see your technique. With limited food supplies, we don’t expect a bunch of different takes. Don’t worry if the dog barks or your kid pops in. Just keep rolling with it,” she said.

All of the Spring Semester courses are underway in a remote format, including Principles of Culinary Arts, Principles of Baking and the advanced American Regional Cuisine. Other non-lab classes being taught are Food and Beverage Cost Control, Labor Cost Control and Beverage Management.

“With cooking I get the vibe that you have to work with what you have,” said student chef Melissa Coleman. “And while we might not have the same equipment at home, we can make it work and learn to improvise. In the long run, these are important skills to have.”

“We are really glad to have all of this technology so we can keep our students going,” Freridge said. “We’re finding that they are all willing and excited to be cooking remotely.”

Remote learning with the culinary program also allows student chefs to provide food for their families during a challenging time.

“We are grateful to be able to help ease the pinch many are feeling during this time,” added Nancy Prather-Johnson, dean of Business. “Providing meals for families is a nice plus to all of this.”

WTKR’s Margaret Kavanagh talked with TCC students and chefs about remote learning in their home kitchens. See more at WTKR-TV.

Create a peaceful, productive study space

Learning at home can be fraught with distractions.  With remote learning in full swing, make sure your study space works for you.

Jennifer Hopkins, Interior Design program head at Tidewater Community College, offers these tips to create a peaceful, productive corner in your world.

“During this extraordinary time, we are spending more time at home and our spaces need to be functional and comfortable,” she said.

Here’s how:

  • Find a work space away from the chaos of daily life and commit to honoring your school schedule (if possible) so you can succeed. This may take help from family members who also want to see you achieve.
  • If you do school work during the day, find a location that has good natural light and/or a view. It takes hours focused on technology to learn online, so nice lighting will prevent strain and provide a break from screen time. 
  • Many students enjoy music in the background to help block distractions, create a sense of calm and remain on task. Studies show that classical music remains the No. 1 choice for productivity. But your music should work for you, whether it’s Mozart or Drake.
  • Arrange your work area to prevent glare while still providing plenty of light. Desk lamps should be placed on the left side for a right-handed person so paperwork isn’t shaded by the working hand. Left-handed people should do the opposite.
  • If young children are in the home, make sure you put all school work away between sessions to prevent curious or sticky hands from wandering too close!
  • Fully clean or declutter your space each evening to make your routine less stressful the next day. Put something beautiful near you such as a plant, flowers or favorite photo.  

TCC will extend remote learning through the spring semester

Tidewater Community College will continue remote learning for all students for the remainder of the spring semester.

All campuses and buildings are closed to students and the public through April 4. The college will provide virtual services only. TCC converted to remote learning on March 23 due to COVID-19.

Students needing support are encouraged to use TCC’s virtual resources. They can also connect with the college via chat through, by phone at 757-822-1111 or by emailing