Apr 20, 5:21pm via Web

Buti na lang meron nang academic-clinic.com. It helped me to discover new tricks. :) @acadclinic

by SearchinDaChnge on Twitter

Why Study in UP?

By now, you’re probably aware of what you can expect from the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT).  You’re armed with knowledge and very, very dangerous.  Before you head out to ace the exam, however, pause to consider one very important question:  why take the test in the first place?

“But that’s a no-brainer,” you may protest.  “I want to get into the university, study, blah, blah, blah.”  Well and good.  Dig a little deeper, though, and you may just find the answer…

…Or not.  If you’re still not exactly sure why you’re taking the UP plunge, here are a few good reasons for doing so.

Bagging the Bragging Rights

The first and most obvious reason is being able to tell others that you survived one of the most difficult local college admission tests known to man.  It’s no secret that the UPCAT mortality rate is quite high:  out of tens of thousands of students who tackle the exam, only perhaps one or two thousand actually pass it and earn the right to study at UP.

There are exceptions to this, however.  As was mentioned in a previous article, it is entirely possible for students to forego taking the UPCAT and still get into the university, provided taking and passing the talent tests required of certain courses.

Premium Education at a Government-Subsidized Price

Who says that a college education need be expensive?  At UP, government subsidies ensure that you pay a tuition fee that’s considerably lower (read: less than half) than that of private universities.  To further ease the strain on your pocket, UP also offers financial assistance to deserving students in the form of cash subsidies, tuition fee waivers, scholarships and what not..

Just because you get a lower tuition fee doesn’t mean that the quality of instruction is anything to sneeze at.  If it’s any indication of how comprehensive a UP education can be, just take a look at the sheer number of courses being offered:  a whopping two hundred forty-six programs for undergraduates and three hundred sixty-two more for graduate students, all of which are distributed over twelve constituent campuses.

What’s more, nearly half of all UP professors have at least a master’s degrees in their respective disciplines, while almost a third of them have the letters “Ph.D” stamped after their names.  You can be sure that you’re getting more than your money’s worth at the state university.

Friends with Benefits

Besides easing up on your budget, there are other pretty perks involved when it comes to studying at the national university.  One of the things you will notice when you study there is the size of the campus itself.  That, coupled with the generally liberal academic atmosphere of the institution, lends itself well to research, exploration, feats of unabashed creativity and just plain fun.

Of course, there are also more down-to-earth things such as discounted health services in the University Clinic and the Philippine General Hospital, access to the uber large eLib database and access to a variety of research centers.  Representatives from both Board of Regents and the University Student Council will also keep a watchful eye on the students and look after their well-being.

For the Record

If you’re a UP graduate, chances are you’ll be respected by your colleagues regardless of your chosen discipline.  The reason:  no other university out there can claim to have produced the largest number of both National Scientists and National Artists.  No surprise there, considering the university’s formidable batting average with regard to licensure exams in law, medicine, engineering and other fields.

And if those honors weren’t already enough, UP also bears the distinction of being the only Philippine member of such associations as the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) and the ASEAN-European University Network (ASEA-UNINET).  The state university is also one of a couple of Philippine Universities in the ASEAN University Network (AUN).

So if you’re thinking of taking the UPCAT, then go for it, by all means.  The test will definitely be a challenging one, but the privileges that you’ll get if you make the grade are well worth the time and the effort spent.

Why Study in UST?

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) exemplifies Dominican education at its finest.  For some this is reason enough to go through the USTET (university of Santo Tomas Entrance Test) and more to get into UST.  Others, however, will need more convincing.  If you’re a doubting Thomas (bad pun intended), read on to find out why you should consider studying in UST.

Why Study in UST

Friedrich Nietzsche once said that “he who has a strong enough why can bear almost any how.”  In plain English, that’s “he who has a strong enough motivation can do almost anything to attain his goal.”

Keep your cool.  This is not a philosophy lesson.  The point I am trying to make is this:  while the USTET and UST education aren’t exactly a burden that students must bear, it can still be a challenge.  However, if you have the Nietzsche’s “strong why”, then you can live with almost any “how.”  Which brings us to our topic:  why go through the trouble of taking the USTET and settle for four or five years of hard study at the University of Santo Tomas?

Each and every university in the Philippines has its strong points, and UST is no exception.  Let’s take a closer look at what this Dominican institution has to offer hopeful students.

Recognition

One good reason why people flock to UST is that it’s one of several internationally recognized Philippine universities.  In fact, if you check the 2008 edition of the Times Higher Education Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, you’ll find UST and friends (read:  University of the Philippines, Ateneo, etc.) among other critically acclaimed universities worldwide.

This is crucial, considering that the university has ties with other good schools such as Kyoto University in Japan and Cambridge University in the UK, to name a few.  UST is also a member of various international school-based organizations such as the International Association of Universities.

Nevertheless, UST can stand on its own merits without the benefits of being included and given recognition in global surveys.  The institution still holds the distinction of being the oldest Roman Catholic-run University in the country and in Asia (it was established in 1619).  It’s also the largest university in the city of Manila, and one of the largest in the world.

The exhibits of UST’s museum of natural history have also garnered awards from expositions in various cities such as Madrid, Hanoi and Paris.  Simply put, the UST museum is the place to visit if you’re majoring in Philippine ethnology, anthropology and the natural sciences.  Be sure to check out the plethora of zoological specimens while you’re there.

Inside The Campus

If you’re looking for a university with lots of eye candy fit for a learning atmosphere (read: landmarks), then UST is a good place to go to.  The campus is a mish-mash of classic and modern architecture.  Some of the more interesting sights to see include three museums, four parks, the Fountain of Wisdom, the Botanical Garden and the Arch of the Centuries, among others.

Don’t think that pleasant sightseeing is all that UST has to offer you.  The programs it offers are nothing to sneeze at, either.  Medicine, Pharmacy, Civil Law and Ecclesiastical Studies are four of the most notable fields of study in the University of Santo Tomas.

The university also houses a formidable think tank and research center named after its patron saint:  the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex.  Think of it as a semi-centralized system where intellectuals are free to rub elbows and think aloud.

And in the event that you need something published, the institution’s very own publishing house and press can take a gander at it.  Besides student publications, UST has dished out a formidable collection of research and academic journals over the years.

The Choice Is Yours

What I’ve mentioned above is really only the tip of the proverbial iceberg – there are many more reasons why you should take the USTET to study in UST.  While everything will still ultimately depend on you and on what you’re really after, a UST education will definitely help you get a head start on a good future.

Why Study in Ateneo?

Why go to Ateneo de Manila University?  An old jest says, “If you’ve got the money and the brains, go to Ateneo.”  This is a typical joke of university students; nevertheless, it is not without basis.  Over the years, Ateneo has developed a reputation as a superior higher-education institution in more ways than one.

If you’re not entirely sure why you should consider Ateneo University as an option, do read on for the things that make Ateneo a good university option and why you should go and file that ACET application.

Distinction

As I mentioned in another article of mine, the Ateneo University bears the distinction of being one of several Philippine Universities mentioned in the Times Higher Education Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, 2008 Edition.

Even without this honor, though, Ateneo’s reputation for quality education has already preceded it.  My mother, a Maryknoll alumna, once told me that you could always spot an Atenean in her day by looking for two telltale signs:  a distinct English twang and a ginormous pile of books.

Admittedly, the English twang has mixed with Filipino over the years, yet the books and the brains are still very much there.

Aesthetics

The Ateneo University has apparently undergone a bit of a renovation process lately.  For example, older complexes such as the Social Science Buildings have also received much-needed facelifts.  Besides that, some nice new buildings have sprung up in recent years- one of which is the John Gokongwei School of Management.

Aesthetically speaking, the Ateneo campus is ideal for those philosophical, peripatetic sessions.  While not as large as, say, the UP Diliman campus, Ateneo still has its share of tree-studded walkways and wide open spaces.

The University Church is always a good place to stop by for some quiet contemplation or emergency prayer session when exams come up.  The Moro Lorenzo Sports Complex is also a nice place to work off a sweat, or even to vent those primal emotions once in a while (and believe me, there will be times when you will need to do so.).

“Heading Down the Mountain”

As Ateneo is a Catholic University, you can expect to go through some form of social outreach program as part of your education.  This may sound like a double-edged sword for some, but the good news is that the program can potentially exercise your compassion and empathy muscles like no other one can.

A good case in point is the course on Theology of Liberation.  It has a mandatory outreach program that requires students to spend some quality time with the underprivileged for a few days.  Students will then be asked to process the experience and share their thoughts and insights about it, and perhaps even do something about it if possible.  It’s amazing what you can learn if you’ve never been exposed to this kind of thing before.

The Jesuit Training System

Perhaps the one thing that makes an Ateneo education stand out most is the Jesuit philosophy behind the college education that they provide.

You see, the Jesuits have a rather unique approach when it comes to education.  They believe in the soundness of a strong core curriculum as an academic foundation.  While Ateneo does allow for specialized training, it is not interested in being overspecialized.  Allow me to explain.

The Ateneo Core Curriculum requires that each and every student receive basic to intermediate training in various subject matters including Mathematics, English, Filipino, Philosophy and Theology.

The point of the whole thing is to provide the student with at least a general competence in a variety of subjects, so that no matter where he or she is placed, that student will always possess a certain degree of knowledge in something other than his or her field of specialization.

It’s basically an exercise in versatility.  If you think of an Ateneo graduate as a specialist with a primary and a secondary specialty, then the core curriculum subjects make up that person’s secondary specialty.

The First Step

The points I’ve mentioned above are some of the many good reasons for choosing Ateneo as your source of tertiary education.  Granted, it an Ateneo education is no easy trek (both academically and financially), but you will find the results to be well worth your effort in the long run.

Is UP for You? Assesing Your Chances in UP

is up for you

A UP diploma may indeed be a great weapon to wield come your entry in the job market.  Nevertheless, one important thing you should consider is –  can you handle UP life and a UP education?  Do you have what it takes to undergo the 4 or 5 years of UP courses, UP programs and intensive instruction that a UP diploma requires?

Many a UP student have found out the hard way that underestimating the discipline and perseverance required to finish a UP program could have far-reaching effects in their lives and that, in such cases, it would’ve been better if they have pursued a course in some other less demanding university.  After all, graduating on time and with honors can pull just about the same weight as having a UP diploma, without honors, after more than 7 years of study.

So before you set your sights on that formidable job-hunting weapon – the UP diploma or a UP-acquired degree – be sure to consider the following:

FFx20 UP Education

Are you built for super fast-forward and intensive education?  UP education is delivered incredibly fast and without any patience towards those who lag behind.  So what took 2 weeks to be taught in your high school is only taught for about 2 days in UP.  Where before, a book is used for the whole year in your high school, in UP, it will be discussed and included in the exam in the span of 1-1/2 months.  Furthermore, the reading lists for individual UP courses are typically as long as an arm.

The teacher comes in, dispenses the information needed, uses about 8 blackboards for notes, asks if there are any questions, and then exits the room to go back to his cubicle after the bell rings (by the way, no actual bells will ring; you’ll know the class period is about to end because your classmates will be fidgeting a few minutes before time).  Typically, lessons that were not discussed but were on the syllabus and the readings assigned are included in exams.  By the way, there are typically three long exams in an individual UP subject, with many a short quizzes spread throughout the duration of the term.

To make a long story short, if you’re setting your sights on the University of the Philippines, better be prepared for a lot of self-studying and fast-forward learning and reading.

Freedom Galore

Freedom, a glorious word and principle – especially for those who grew up in girls-only schools, super strict Catholic schools or small-town schools where everybody knows everybody and every move you make gets recorded in the town’s ‘logbook’.

In UP, university professors generally don’t care about what your wear in class, what your hairstyle is and what you do after class.  Hell some profs dont even care if you come to class at all.  Just be there for the exams, pass those exams, pass your projects on time, and be there for the occasional recitation, and there should be no problems.

You can smoke [in some places] inside the campus [but not inside buildings], cut classes, join rallies and demonstrations, be a part of orgs and fraternities, come to school dressed in a Spiderman costume, sleep in class – and nobody will care.  There are no curfews, no monitors, you can stay up late, drink with your friends every night or play Ragnarok till the wee hours of the morning, and nobody will know [unless the landlady is a family friend].  Of course, it’s a different story if you live in an in-campus, university-administered dorm where curfews are enforced; nevertheless, UP dormers typically find a way around dormitory rules – say, they stay out overnight.

You can be failing in class and your professor won’t nag you.  You can be sleeping on park benches and your landlady won’t care [as long as you pay the rent].  You can be spending more time in your student organization’s tambayan than in class and your orgmates won’t give a flying fark.

Fact is, UP freedom is a double edged sword.  You can use it to hone your maturity and sense of responsibility, or you can use it to dig your own dream’s grave [there goes your dream of graduating with honors and on time – or even graduating from college at all].

The bottomline:  UP will give you lots of choices.  UP students are free to make their decisions.  However, freedom also means freedom to make grave mistakes.  If you are not confident that you can handle your freedom in UP, better bring along your mom to UP or choose a university closer to home.

Lost in a Sea of Minds

If before you were regarded as the class genius or the school prodigy, be prepared to be one of the thousands of faceless students when you come to UP.  A lot more than half of the people in UP will be just like you – the achievers and the honor students in their high school graduating class.

Here, you won’t be as smug as before when half the class is still catching up and you’re already through.  Chances are high that you will find ten or more people who are smarter than you in every one of your UP classes.  You won’t be singled out or placed on a pedestal to be emulated and admired.  And you sure as hell won’t be given any doggie treats or special privileges.  Most of the time, you’ll be there crawling with the rest, hoping against hope that you will get at least a “three” – the passing mark.

In other words, if you prefer stardom and special status, kiss UP goodbye and settle for a smaller university.  Of course, if you’re one of the few real geniuses out there, there’s a chance that you’ll still stand out from the crowd.

The University of Pila

The registration/enrollment process of UP itself every semester is a recurring nightmare where only the fittest [have the most kapal ng mukha], the most determined, the ones with the highest levels of endurance and stamina survive to enroll their required units.  Those who make it through the university are no stranger to very long lines and probably know every dirty tactic that has ever been invented for outwitting other people who want the same academic units.  UP is after all not called the University of Pila for nothing.

Of course, the situation has improved somewhat with the introduction of the CRS Online (Computer Registration System) when students have to be on virtual lines or pila for their desired slots.  Nevertheless, those who don’t get their desired slots online still have to suffer through the long lines to get their desired UP courses.

In short, if you think you don’t have what it takes to physically fight for your right to have a slot in any of your required UP subjects, or if you have a fear of crowds or a fear of growing old in long lines, maybe it would be better to reconsider your decision to study in UP.

Conclusion:

What do you face in UP?

The specter of 4-5 years of mental torture, the risk of destroying yourself with too much freedom, the loss of your former special or star status, and the need to fight tooth and nail for your slot every semester.

Is it worth it?

Oh yes.  If you are smart (street-smart, that is) and mature enough to judge what’s good for you and what’s not, a UP education is still worth all the hardships it comes with.  A UP education is still undoubtedly the best brand of college education there is in the country, not only because of the exceptional quality of the university’s academics, but also because of the education that you will get outside UP classrooms.  In UP, you will have a lot of opportunity to learn self-reliance, common sense, teamwork, responsibility, ingenuity, and self discipline.

Think hard and think long.  Look before you leap and take honest stock of your weaknesses and strengths.  A UP diploma is great to have – if you’re strong enough to earn it.

ps.  you might also want to read about UP culture shock.:)