Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Higher Learning

At about this time of the year 19 years ago, I and six other people came to school on an ordinary day and found our names posted on one of the bulletin boards along the walk. We passed the UPCAT. The letters arrived at home a few days later.

I recalled that day because last week, my first godchild did not find her name on the list. That list, I presume, is still posted on the bulletin boards of the old "alma meyter," even though UP has already been posting the results on the Web for years now. Ramon Magsaysay HS in Cubao is still posting their list on their wall facing EDSA. That alone gives me enough reason to believe that every other high school in the country is doing the same thing.

It is a fact that it is statistically difficult to get into that list. While high school grades are considered in the selection process, having high grades does not at all guarantee admission into UP. Of the seven of us who made it, only two graduated with honors, prompting one of my classmates who did not make the list, but graduated with honors, to tell to no one in particular that day, that he should have chosen another campus. One of my friends who chose UPLB as his first choice could only snicker. He later met his wife in Elbi, and to make a long story short, they made me a godfather a few years later.

While admission into the premier state university of the country is source of pride for all of us who were lucky enough to make it, it does not mean the end of the world for the others who did not. If anything, I can guarantee that they will be less arrogant than the stereotypical UP student. I myself turned down my slot in UP 19 years ago to attend another school, and it turned out rather well for me (except for the arrogance part - that other school was apparently good at churning out arrogant dicks as well). It was so good, in fact, that 10 years after finishing college in that small liberal arts school in QC, I passed the LAE and was admitted to UP Law. I figured that that would settle, once and for all, all lingering questions in my head about what would have been if I stayed at UP, just like six of my friends. But, that's another story.

While I have no doubt in my mind that she will excel in whatever it is that she chooses to do in the next four years of her life, I want to warn her that, chances are, she will be experiencing the most wonderful moments of her life within the next four years, and she must not be carried away. She will also face her biggest problems and see the best and worst in people. During those moments, it is very likely, that she will be on her own. She must not be overwhelmed by all the new things that she would have to face and she must not lose sight of what she came there for in the first place.

It is, nevertheless, fortunate that she is attending college away from home at this time and age. Unlike her parents and I, she does not have to lug coins with her and fall in line to use the only working PLDT pay phone in the dorm (or campus) to call home. She will have the luxury of a relatively cheap Internet connection to send email and to chat. She can choose to spend her free time in any of the God-knows-how-many malls around the city. She does not have to go to SM City North EDSA every time to catch the last full show.

She will have the best years of her life. She only needs to make sure that she does not have too good a time while at it.

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