UP accepts 11,000 ‘Iskolar’ sans UPCAT
Hands shaking, heart thudding, 18-year-old Fae Coleen Lagura logged on to the University of the Philippines (UP) website at 4 a.m. on Thursday, the day of her senior high graduation, to check her admission test results. Sure enough, she got into UP Los Baños’ biology program for the academic year 2021-2022—one of the 11,000 new Iskolar ng Bayan (People’s Scholars), or Isko in UP parlance.
“It was so unexpected,” she said. “I called my mom, who is an overseas Filipino worker … She was screaming and crying.”
Lagura’s batch will be the first to enter the country’s premier university without having taken the notoriously difficult UP College Admission Test (Upcat), banking solely on their high school grades to get admitted instead.
Because the university decided to nix the Upcat over the pandemic, this year’s more than 100,000 aspiring freshmen submitted their applications through UP’s online portal while their schools submitted their high school grades.
Many, including some successful applicants themselves, both understood and lamented this system, saying that high school grades were not the only reliable metric for success in university.
“[Entering UP without taking the Upcat] added more pressure and … fear,” said 19-year-old Lousheil Baradi, who passed UP Manila’s public health program. “Entrance examinations are supposed to assess whether we can take the pressure in the university.”
“By not taking the Upcat, I am (not reassured) that I am capable of that pressure, since my grades can only tell so much,” she added.
Classes for the first semester, which start Sept. 17, will still be mostly online. This means incoming freshmen, themselves products of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) “blended learning” system, will again have to endure the same for college.
On one hand, the DepEd’s blended learning system “already prepared me for this scenario,” said Lagura. “But, at the same time, I am still lost because I cannot say for certain that I am prepared to do online classes for college.”
For Baradi, this also meant forgoing many formative experiences as a freshman in university.
“I am definitely disappointed that my ‘firsts’ will be different from the stories I heard from my family, but what’s here is here and I just want to make the most out of it,” she said.
Those who did not pass the degree programs they applied for but whose university predicted grade (UPG) made the cutoff are encouraged to appeal for admission to a degree program in another campus, or if their UPG is within the cutoff grade and the degree program they want still has slots.
Only the Diliman campus does not accept appeals; Baguio and Manila campuses accept appeals for those with 2.421-2.580 grades and above; Cebu and Visayas, 2.700; and Los Baños, Mindanao and Open University, 2.800.
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