Power Outages Disconnect Seniors From Their College Applications

Nearly one million Northern and Central California customers lost power this Saturday.


Taila Lee

Many families used candles, flashlights, or lanterns during the power outage that began Saturday, October 26.

By Taila Lee, Woodside High School

With the November 1 early action college deadline approaching, many seniors panicked over their inability to edit their online applications due to the power outage beginning October 26 with no confirmed restoration date.

Due to wildfire risk, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) cut power to around 900,000 customers in California this Saturday, with affected areas in San Mateo County losing power around 8 pm. This is PG&E’s second planned outage this month.

“I had to go to Stanford to do my homework and to work on my college applications,” explained Woodside senior Isabel de Oliveira. “My power was out, so I had no WiFi. I spent my day at my mother’s office working. [I] brought my laptop, hooked up the WiFi, and wrote my college essays.”

De Oliveira is applying with early action status to two colleges.

“My goal was to turn them in on Sunday, but I wasn’t able to do that,” de Oliveira said. “I have to do it this week [instead] because of the power outage.”

The outage also affected Woodside senior Kai Fronsdal, who is applying to one college with early action status.

“[The power outage] made [my schedule] a bit more tight,” Fronsdal explained. “I wasn’t able to do that much, so I kind of have to buckle down now.”

Some students headed to public places on the weekend to work on college applications and homework, crowding libraries, community centers, and cafes.

“I had to go to the library to use the Internet and to charge my laptop, so I could work later once the library was closed,” Fronsdal said.

“I have no service or power, so I literally can’t do anything,” said Rebecca Noy, a Woodside senior and resident of San Carlos. “All the Starbucks are packed.”

As PG&E had announced the power outage before Saturday, families prepared for the outage ahead of time.

“We bought batteries,” de Oliveira said. “I replaced [the] batteries in lanterns all around my house; I charged my computer, charged my phone, [and] charged a portable charger for my phone.”

Fronsdal explained that his family prepared by finding “a lot of candles” and taking “perishables over to someone else’s house.”

Although power may return to homes across the Bay Area midday on October 28, PG&E is currently following another severe wind event for Tuesday and Wednesday.

“I’m stressed,” de Oliveira said, “[not only because] some teachers are going to be unwilling to move deadlines… but also because of early action with colleges coming up.”

This story was originally published on The Paw Print on October 28, 2019.