I used to have this mindset that in choosing my college, it’s “UP or nothing.”

I have known the University of the Philippines as an institution that enjoys an exalted position in terms of quality education in our country. I thought that by going into UP, I would be secured a successful future.

I was wrong. Not because my future is going all over the place, but because I’ve realized that getting into a particular school doesn’t give us the certainty of thriving. I am not saying also that I am now regretting my choice to be in UP.

Bottom line, it’s never about the school but our determination and hard work that will help us succeed.

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But why am I saying all this?

Just recently, admission to the different colleges and universities – UP included – has begun. There were posts from friends expressing their frustration about not getting into their dream universities and instead of settling for schools that they are qualified to enroll in. There are also those who passed the examination for the university but are not eligible for their dream course.

And that’s where one’s critical decision-making skills come in especially if they don’t have the privilege to get the best of both worlds. It’s going to be a question of whether they are to pursue their “dream school” or their “dream course”.

If I were a year younger, I would advise them to take the latter. If their dream course – considering it is not exclusive to just a particular university – would truly give them joy in their college journey, then they have to go for it because they’ll be dealing with that career like journalism, sciences, engineering, etc. for the rest of their lives compared to choosing their dream school which they would only be in for four years or so.

But today, being a little bit wiser than I was before, I would tell them that what matters most is the happiness in whatever choice they make as they match it with the capabilities they have. If choosing their dream school would mean a better college experience even if it means setting aside what degree program they thought they wanted, well, we just have to support them.

At the end of the day, we own our choices. Whether it’s our dream course or dream school, we carry that responsibility to study well and work to the best of our abilities so that our future and our contribution to society are guaranteed. And in whatever choice we make, we should strive to do it not only for ourselves but also ‘para sa bayan.’

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is a student-intern reporter of Palawan News and is currently taking up Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies at University of the Philippines Visayas. She covers special reports in tourism, business and other human interest stories. Her interests includes singing, painting, and volunteering in civic organizations like the Girl Scouts of the Philippines.