The University of the Philippines stands out from other universities in many ways. Among the things that make UP unique are the curriculum and the system by which the students conform to it. Unlike most universities with fixed curricula and linear schedules followed by all of the students, UP allows its students to mix and match the courses in their curriculum as they wish.
The pre-enlistment period of UP gives its students their first taste of academic freedom. During this period, students select their subjects and arrange their schedules as part of planning their academic careers. Think it sounds easy? We’ll warn you right off that it’s not. In fact, it’s so complicated that this installment had to be split into two parts. Get the basics first before we move on to the details.
General Education Courses
In UP, you do not start off with your majors right away. During your first two years (especially the first), you are required to take General Education subjects, more commonly known as GEs. These basic courses serve as prerequisites for your majors and ensure the well-roundedness of each student. Under the Revitalized General Education Program, which first came into effect in the first semester of AY 2012-2013, freshmen will start out with GEs and go on to take a specific number of GEs throughout their stay in UP.
Some GEs may be picked out and taken as a student sees fit, but other GEs must absolutely be taken by everyone. The list of required GEs varies with each campus, so be sure to find the correct list for you.
Majors and Electives
There is no pattern for when students will be taking their majors. The curricula of some programs include major subjects as early as the first semester; others introduce the majors much later. In later years, students are required to take elective courses, of which there are four kinds: department-exclusive, college-exclusive, cognate, and foreign language.
Department-exclusive courses are elective subjects chosen by the student according to his or her chosen specialization. College-exclusive courses are elective subjects which may be taken as supplements to a student’s specialization. Cognate courses are subjects with numbers of 100 or higher; they may be from any department and taken as the student needs or wants. Foreign language electives are taken by students of interpersonal degree programs (some degree programs have specific foreign languages set as majors) and may not include English.
Physical Education and NSTP
Aside from GEs and majors, UP students must also take four PE courses and two NSTP courses. Some programs allow students to take them anytime during their stay in UP, but some follow a fixed schedule. Of course, it is advisable to take them during the least hectic years of your program. There are two kinds of PE and three kinds of NSTP.
PE 1 is for lectures, while PEs 2 to 4 are the active, more exciting PE classes. UP offers a very diverse set of PEs, from dances, ball games and martial arts to board games, outdoor activities, and card games. Different PEs are offered in each campus.
The components of NSTP are ROTC (better known as Military Science), CWTS (Civil Welfare Training Service), and LTS (Literacy Training Service). The ROTC is about more than just guns and warfare as it also includes survival skills, discipline, and mental acuity; the CWTS encourages community involvement and social development; and the LTS is an educational outreach program designed to help young children and out-of-school youth with basic skills in reading and mathematics.
Units and the Different Curricula
GEs, majors and electives may have an equivalent of one to six units; PE courses are equal to two units; and NSTP courses are equal to three units. Fifteen units is the minimum load for any student in UP, and out of all the units any student must take, six must satisfy the Philippine Studies requirement (Kas 1 and Fil 40 or their equivalents are highly recommended for this).
Think that the above information is a lot to take in? Don’t worry; there are outlines prepared for each degree program to guide the students. Find the curriculum for your program at the designated office of your campus.
The Basics of Pre-Enlistment and Enlistment
Now that you have a general idea of UP’s curriculum, you will learn about the pre-enlistment procedure. The pre-enlistment is likened nowadays to literary phenomenon The Hunger Games; everyone is after the same goals and you can only hope that the odds will be in your favor. Some are lucky enough to get into their desired blocs with all their desired subjects; some do not get granted all of their subjects or, heaven forbid, any subjects at all.
As a freshman, you need not worry too much about all these things yet (but of course, since this is UP we’re talking about, it’s best to anticipate all sorts of situations). Your first enlistment process will be much easier than any you will have to undergo for the rest of your stay in the university. For some, the reason for this is that pre-enlistment is done entirely online. For others, it is because enlistment will be done on the spot when you enroll. Others still will be asked to rank the available and required subjects on a checklist, upon which each student’s checklist will be evaluated and used as a basis for each student’s schedule.
The different campuses have different pre-enlistment modules. Not all campuses will have their freshmen use these modules to enlist for subjects in their first semester, but they are used in similar ways. When you enlist, you may be asked to choose your bloc section (a group of students who share the same subjects, much like sections in high school) and your classes. Classes are generally chosen according to the prescribed domains (AH, SSP, MST).
Three and a Half Down, One and a Half to Go!
There is a lot more to the pre-enlistment procedure than there seems to be, because your preference is not the only deciding factor for your schedule. Other things to contend with are the limited number of slots, college limitations, schedule conflicts, and of course, your fellow freshmen! To ensure that you get the most out of the pre-enlistment period, you have to make a few smart choices. In some campuses, freshmen will luckily not have to undergo this for their first enlistment, but since you will be undergoing it eventually anyway, you might as well learn about it now. More of that will be explained in the second half of this article. Stay tuned for Part 4-B of the “Admission for Incoming UP Freshmen” series, Pre-Enlistment and Batch Run!