UC extends application deadline for students affected by North Bay fires

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Incoming freshmen and transfer students affected by the recent North Bay wildfires, among other natural disasters, now have an extra two weeks to submit their UC applications.

The University of California announced in a press release Monday that it would extend its fall 2018 application deadline from Nov. 30 to Dec. 15, “in an effort to assist freshman and transfer applicants affected by the deadly wildfires.” In a message for applicants affected by the natural disasters, the university also said an application fee waiver for up to four UC campuses would be automatically applied to the accounts of students who had received extended deadlines.

In the message, the university announced that students must make the request for the extension and fee waiver via email and encouraged students to provide the context behind their decision to apply after the first deadline. The university said it was dedicated to assisting and supporting those in need and affected by recent natural disasters.

UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said in an email that the extension will not delay the application process, and students can still expect their decisions to be released in February or March.

“We receive extension requests that are handled on a case by case basis each year, but the magnitude of the California wildfires led UC to make additional allowances at the systemwide level for affected students,” Vazquez said in his email.

Many community members expressed support for the extended deadline.

Marilu Saldana, counseling department chair for El Molino High School in Forestville, said in an email that she thought an extension was necessary.

“In unforeseen circumstances a situation out of our control should not hinder students ability to complete college applications, therefore, an extension is justifiable,” Saldana said in her email. “Some schools were not in session for weeks in the County. Our students deserve the time necessary to recover.”

McKenna Peterson, a student at Santa Rosa Junior College who aims to transfer to a university campus next year, said the announcement came as a relief. Because Peterson’s house was in an evacuation zone during the fires, she had to leave her home for two weeks. Peterson couch-surfed for those weeks and said she helped her friend evacuate 30 minutes before her house burnt down.

Peterson added that the transition back to community college after the fires had been difficult because “you want to be out there helping someone.”

“(The deadline extension) recognizes that people are going through something difficult,” Peterson said. “You have more important things to worry about, like where you’re gonna live. … It lets us get back on track and get our lives back together.”

Kris Bertsch-Rydell, a counselor at Santa Rosa High School, said in an email that counselors for Santa Rosa City Schools had not yet received information on the deadline extension for their senior students. She added that she thought the extension request’s requirements were unclear.

Bertsch-Rydell also said in her email, however, that she thought this extension was necessary because some of her students are now considered “homeless and displaced” since the Northern California fires.

William Cooper, a senior at Bret Harte Union High School in Angels Camp who is currently applying to UC schools, said although he wasn’t near the fires, his grandparents lived in the area. He added that he thought the extension and waiver were helpful.

“There are a lot of people who are affected by the service,” Cooper said. “(The extension deadline) will be very helpful.”

Contact Mary Kelly Ford at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @MaryKellyFord1.