I will now be referring to March 1 as the “Adviser Apocalypse.” Yes, that March 1st that flew right past us. The hint of spring, the realization we only have 3 months left, and . . . the due date of the FAFSA application. I knew that Friday would be a crazed day. I knew I would have multiple phone calls, students coming in doing last-minute Data Retrieval Tool transfers, and crumpled scholarships turned in. However, I was not prepared for the Adviser Apocalypse.
As advisers in the past month, we have been on announcements, we have sent out mail, we have been calling out students, asking for social security numbers, calling parents, shouting at seniors across the hall during class changes, begging for 1040s to be brought to school. I found myself unconsciously typing www.fafsa.gov once I got home on my own computer. The FAFSA had invaded our lives, our dreams, and spare moments. And it all came to fruition on March 1. I had been counting down to March 1 every day on our announcements: If I had 100 FAFSAs submitted by this huge day, I promised my seniors I would “drop a beat.” That Monday, there were a total of 36 submitted. We would be in FAFSA overdrive all week.
As I walked into my office Friday morning, I already had three voicemails, and a line of students outside my office. And then it never stopped. At one point, I had two different FAFSAs being worked on at my desk, on the phone with two different parents, and getting a scholarship turned in. Hence the Adviser Apocalypse name. I helped students not yell at the “FAFSA live help chat,” made countless PIN numbers, promised parents it wasn’t always this crazy, and tried to stay afloat the EFC’s flying my way. And then, school ended. I sank into my desk chair to count the final numbers: 106 FAFSAs submitted by 3:28. They did it!
Our work as advisers is exhausting. It is crazed. It causes us to come up with ridiculous names like the Adviser Apocalypse. However, it is worth it. Through our work, we get to see the immediate benefit of our student’s hard work. We hear parents and students tell us they didn’t know they could afford higher education until they heard about the FAFSA. We catch mistakes that turn an EFC (expected family contribution) from a $100,000 to a $1,000. We see the pride in students’ eyes as they turn in their first scholarship applications. We are making a difference. And that, my friends, makes March 1 worth it.