How Irma Will Affect College Admissions

First of all, to all my Floridian families- I hope you weathered the storm and were able to be near your loved ones during this crazy, unexpected, terrifying time. My thoughts are with those still working to rebuild during this time.


As I was thinking of this week's blog post in aftermath of Irma, I remembered when I lived in Nicaragua and we had about a month off of school due to repeated strong earthquakes that were rattling the country. Unfortunately, besides the learning not taking place, it was during Advanced Placement (AP) testing which caused panic as students and teachers tried to prep for the tests without meeting in person. Contacting CollegeBoard and explaining again and again why we couldn't test on test dates- let alone get our tests mailed out!- was stressful and downright exhausting.

So as I sit down, I think it is a good idea to discuss how Hurricane Irma will have on student's college admission this year.

1. Limited College Fairs and High School Visits- This time of year many college admission representatives have booked their calendar weeks, if not months, in advance to make visits to local high schools and the large county college fairs, as they run tight schedules criss-crossing across the state. August and early September are prime times to meet with these representatives in these settings, and for families to ask questions, explore new colleges, and find a student's "Just Right" college. Because of Irma, multiple county fairs and college visits have already been cancelled and there are no current plans to reschedule.

What to do instead: Plan on finding who your college admission representative is for your area. Contact them and kindly ask the questions you have. This not only begins to build a relationship with them, but your specific questions can be answered. I would also suggest looking at nearby counties to see when their college fairs might be, or even other high schools in the areas (great question to ask in your email!).

Plan on attending the Big Virtual College Admission Fair online, where over 700 colleges and universities from around the country will be online to answer your questions. September 25, 1-6 pm

Plan on attending NACAC National College Fairs, as they are later in the season and run about 200+ colleges from Florida, United States, and International. 

South Florida National College Fair- October 1, 2017, Fort Lauderdale


Jacksonville National College Fair- October 14, 2017, Jacksonville

Orlando National College Fair- October 15, 2017, Orlando

Miami National College Fair- February 25, 2018, Miami

2. Limited Exposure to Different Colleges & Universities: Often college fairs give students a chance to meet and talk with a variety of unique colleges and universities that offer diverse programming, specialized curriculum, and substantial financial aid and scholarships outside the traditionally thought of school. Joseph Madigan, our SW Florida college representative from Florida Southern College said this about the impact of Irma and college admissions, "I think that this may limit exposure to schools that students may have never thought of before. There are lots of great schools out there and seeing them at a high school visit or college fair can be the first time a student has heard of or considered a school." I have personally had several students who applied to schools and received substantial scholarships because of college fairs.

What to do instead: Be open in your college research. Using the many college search engines out there, be cognizant that you are hoping it says one school or another. This also happens when you talk with friends, family, and professionals- you only hear what you want to hear. Keep an open mind to what these sites and others are telling you. Follow up by talking with the colleges and seeing if it could be a fit.

Some common sites are: CollegeBoard, Cappex, College Raptor

3. Limited Preparation for Applications and Scholarships: The college process always feels like it flies by (or drags every second if waiting for a decision), especially when students try to meet the Early Decision or Priority Deadlines colleges have established. Another issue the storm will produce are students that will not be ready to submit their documents in time to meet these deadlines. Mr. Madigan echoed this by saying, "While I do think that Irma may effect the timeline of when students apply and schools may see a delay in college applications being completed, students will still apply to schools they are most interested in. They just may apply in early to late October instead of mid-late September. It will be important for college bound students to still keep deadlines in mind for schools that have them especially for scholarship applications."

What to do instead: While many students are in different situations throughout the state, students still need to keep in mind these important deadlines. Taking moments to prepare by creating a resume, writing the essay, and doing research are key. Keep a calendar of important dates and enroll parents to help in the process in the shortened time frame. Another suggestion is to order the digital guidebook College UnMazed: Your Guide Through the  Florida College & University System today, as the pdf will walk you through step-by-step the entire process so you stay on top of everything in a timely, reduced stress way!