College-bound Chicago students pay price for 11-day teachers strike

'I feel like I'm getting an unfair disadvantage,' one student says.

The Chicago teachers strike affecting roughly 300,000 students is ending Friday, but it came at an inopportune season — early deadlines for college applications.

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Shawn Samuels, a senior at Lincoln Park High School on the north side of Chicago, focused on his college applications with school not in session.

"I can't even finish those because I have to have my counselors send in information, and I can't even get that done," Samuels, 17, told FOX Business before the Chicago Teachers Union agreed to return to the classroom. "My anxiety is getting high. It's only in Chicago that this is happening."

"I feel like I'm getting an unfair disadvantage as far as other kids," he said.

BACK TO SCHOOL: CHICAGO TEACHERS REACH DEAL TO END 11-DAY STRIKE

College admissions consultant Elizabeth Heaton of Bright Horizons College Coach advised students to focus on the parts of their applications they can control and be sure to communicate with college admissions staff.

"I've found, as a former admissions officer and engaging with the college community, they're there to help kids and they want to help kids… They'll be flexible," Heaton told FOX Business. "Always just call and explain what is going on."

Students affected by the teachers' strike attend a program at the McCormick YMCA on Oct. 17, 2019 in Chicago. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

She suggested students check colleges' websites. Many are upfront about providing extensions for students affected by events like wildfires and hurricanes.

Heaton also advised students to think of non-teachers who could write their college application recommendation letters, just in case. That list could include bosses or clergy.

"Tee that up as a backup plan if, for whatever reason, a counselor or teacher is not able to write you a letter," she said.

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Colleges understand that a student may send in materials before his or her school, and it shouldn't have an adverse effect on a student's application, Heaton said.

Chicago school administrators announced on Wednesday that the PSAT, a standardized test supported by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, would not happen as planned because of the strike. National Merit would look at students' April scores, Chicago Public Schools said.

Heaton advised affected students not to fret.

"National Merit gets more attention than it should. A very limited number of students qualify to win, and when you do win it only helps them with about $2,000," she said.

Meanwhile, students like Shawn are trying to plan their futures. The high school football player hopes to attend a state school like Illinois State Univeristy and major in kinesiology.

"I understand that [the teachers] have to do what they have to do for themselves and their families, but it comes to a point where it's taking away from the whole reason they're doing their jobs, which is for the students," he said.

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