Congratulations to all UPCAT passers! Abandon hope all ye who enter (kidding! 1/2). As an incoming fourth-year student at the University of the Philippines Manila, I think I can say that I am qualified to launch tips for newly-passed UPCAT freshies! And if your name is not on the list, don’t worry! There are still chances to be reconsidered, and even if you aren’t, UP is not the end. You are being redirected to another path, the one that’s best for you, so padayon!
So, if you were anything like me during my first year, you’d probably be scouring through the net for articles on how to survive UP. Fret not. Hopefully, this article will give advice that I wish was given to me during my freshman year.
While these are all based on my encounters, and we all experience reality differently, I hope this survival guide can give you insight into being a UP student.
1. The tuition is free, but your soul is the payment.
I know that it’s a running joke among many UP students, but it’s true and for a good reason. College, in general, is a challenge but college in UP? That is the pinnacle of complexity. Get ready because UP will break you physically, mentally, and intellectually. We were cared for and nourished in high school, but college will be ruthless. You have to be independent. You make your own schedule, and you discipline yourself to follow it. Your professors won’t remind you to study, but you will have this inclination to do your best in every subject. You will face new theories, new lessons, and new materials that you will have difficulty understanding. Failures happen. Breakdowns and late nights become normal.
UP WILL BREAK YOU.
But it will also rebuild you. Gone are your old adages of thinking, replaced with progressive, innovative, and creative new ideas! You will learn not just academics but also the social issues that plague our country. Your heart and soul will be transformed, and you will have a yearning to be better. Not better for the sake of high grades, but better in terms of being a better citizen and future professional of our country. You will break, but that process of being broken is a transformation all along into the best version of you- the one you never knew you were capable of.
2. Join organizations and find out your interests!
Many UP organizations cater to various student interests, career growth, social issues, and talents! Whether it’s for leadership, community service, or a dance troupe, UP offers many orgs for you to explore your talent and find your group in the university. After all, isn’t that the goal? To belong somewhere, somehow, someplace (chz)?
On a more serious note, organizations will really help you develop your interests, talents, skills, and knowledge! They are your learning outside of the four walls of the classroom. Plus, they will also be a source of comfort as you traverse the stress of academics in UP. It’s nice to have a family you can turn to.
Find out the organizations available at your campus through your freshie welcoming assemblies (FWA)! I honed my theater production skills with UP Manila Dramatista and engaged in community service with the Rotaract Club of UP Manila. For my career growth, I joined UP Manila Junior Marketing Association and my course’s home org, Organizational Communication Society. These orgs helped me improve my leadership and people skills!
3. Pressure is your greatest enemy. Don’t fight that battle.
As a UP student, you will face a lot of pressure coming from all areas of your life. Pressure from our country, pressure from your academics, pressure from your family, pressure from your classmates, and pressure from yourself. You will feel as if you need to kill yourself to perform better. Furthermore, you might even berate yourself for not working as hard as you think a stellar scholar should study.
BUT DON’T. Don’t pressure yourself academically. Perform and do your best, but don’t sacrifice a lot in the process. Learn to take care of yourself. If you force yourself to exert effort in all subjects and areas, you will eventually drain yourself. Sometimes, your actions will not reflect because they are not the only factors affecting your grades.
That’s okay. As long as you are learning, you are growing. You are improving and progressing. Study and aim high, but don’t feel bad for failing at times. Learn to work at your own pace, and NEVER compare yourself.
PRO TIP: Aim for unos during the freshman year because it gets harder as you progress with your major subjects. You are all scholars and you deserve to be here. Moreover, you are worthy of being called an isko and iska ng bayan.
4. Don’t be afraid, and live in the moment!
Before you know it, four years will pass by in an instant. I know that you might not perceive being a UP student as much it would be if it was face-to-face, but make the most out of it. You are here, and that means you are called to be like the oblation. Offer yourself and everything that you have to UP. Let UP do its thing to you. I promise you, the journey is harrowing. There are times you would want to give up, but the endgame will show you the REAL REASON you chose to enroll here.
I’d like to add a few quick tips too, just in case:
- TBA means to be announced. Idk why, but TBA really confused me as a freshie as I asked where the TBA room is in Rizal Hall.
- Pick your people and study buddies wisely. In my case, my Always Together group is a bunch of stellar procrastinators who produce quality outputs, so they validate me and my pace (Hi Jeus, Gen, Kate, and MJ)!
- Follow the myths! Better safe than sorry. Don’t take a picture of yourself with oble.
- There is nothing wrong with being delayed. Life is not a race. We all move in our own time.
- Never take anything personally.
- You will meet a lot of people with different mindsets, cultures, and perspectives. Be open-minded.
- Have your own organized system for studying and working! Use time management and get adequate rest too.
Laban, iskolar ng bayan! Remember that the privilege and honor of being called a UP student come with great duty and responsibility. Exercise honor, excellence, and compassion at all times.
Padayon, my little sunflowers!
An aspiring adventurist who aims to travel the world someday. Weird and poetic, a great friend for problematic rants and deep talks about life in general. Hit me up on my socials!