LAST summer, I was overwhelmed to see a long queue that literally surrounded the Tan Yan Kee Student Center Building, only to find out that it was the last day of confirmation of program slots available for incoming freshman students.

Hopeful applicants with their parents painstakingly endured the scorching heat and the seemingly airtight space of the lobby, and instead vied for the good fortune that awaits them any moment. But after hours of tiresome waiting, a security guard with a megaphone announced past lunch time that the four available programs were already filled.

Outbursts and dismay filled the atmosphere. And the hopefuls, who mostly might have come from the provinces, went home losing their bid for Thomasian education.

Such scenario happens every year despite the annual and dreadful tuition increase in UST which burdens the parents. Indeed, enrolling their children in quality higher education institutions such as UST remains the top consideration of parents, in belief of assuring their children of a bright future.

Unfortunately, some of those students unwillingly enrolled in a course that was never their choice. Lucky are those who were able to shift eventually to the program they originally intended to, but those were unfortunate have nothing to do but to finish the entire course in vain.

I remembered what my colleague—who just graduated in UST last March—told me of her anxieties in her course. She said it never crossed her mind to take it per se, but after she had failed to meet the required cut-off grade or quota of her chosen course, she didn’t hesitate to grab the slot of her course which was among those available that time, for the sake of not missing the chance to study in UST.

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And with high hopes, she said her being a Thomasian graduate would still open doors of opportunities and would result in favorable employment, though admitting her training is not much related to the field of her real interest.

It’s good to hear from some alumni in the industry that Thomasian graduates are among those who are sought-after by the employers because of their “congeniality and professionalism” that make them stand out in a subtle way. But would such “Thomasian birthmark” still be evident to someone who is working in a field that is not of his interest, or pursuing a career he is not much geared for?

Just imagine the years-long of fulfilling dreadful academic requirements in the course that was never your choice, only to find out that you might just lead to possible employment mismatch in the end. Just imagine performing half-heartedly in a job you wouldn’t imagine you would ever engage into, or worse, performing poorly in the job you have long aspired for due to training incompatibility. The invested time, efforts, and money which supposed to assure of a promising career were just put into waste.

Choosing the right course and the right school to enroll is an inevitable dilemma every college student had gone through (or should I say, has been going through for some). Some of us considered studying in UST out of its credibility and excellence, while some considered the competence of its program offerings.

But whatever consideration that is, what we should be most certain of is that we are enrolled in a course of our choice, not only because it is in demand in the industry nor we just simply want to be “different,” but we are committed to it in order to hone and develop our fullest potentials.

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To be able to study in a prestigious and excellent university like UST is something neither to brag about nor to take advantage of. It must be remembered that it’s not about the name of the school that would assure us a greener pasture. Rather, it would be all about you—the skills, ideals and especially, the character you have imbibed from your alma mater.

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