In UP, students face stigma from their parents who expect them to graduate on time. For some, that judgment comes from their own classmates and friends who think that being delayed only means you’re “delinquent” or “not good enough for UP.” Extending one’s stay in the university shouldn’t be something to be shamed of (after all, “quality education takes time”); but one cannot deny the struggle of having to wait a little longer to don that sweet Sablay.
To be delayed isn’t usually something UP students would want to happen to them. Some are delayed because they chose to shift courses, or they needed more time for their special project/undergraduate research. For a few, taking part in extracurricular activities such as exchange programs are their reasons for getting delayed. However, for many UP students, circumstance prevents them from graduating on time despite their dedication and hard work.
Here is a list of reasons why UP students get delayed:
1. Financial reasons
Sometimes students get delayed due to financial factors. Even with the Free Tuition Law, some students still struggle to cover their expenses for rent, food, as well as materials they need for school. With skyrocketing prices of goods, it could spell out delay for students who simply cannot afford their needs.
Some students continue their education as a working student—but even this is not an option for some given the academic workload in UP. For the same reason, many students have to completely stop their education, dedicating themselves to providing for the financial needs of their families. This is the case for Joanna*, a BACA student, who filed for LOA because she couldn’t afford school anymore. “My batch was the first to suffer the TOFI from 225 per unit to 1000 per unit. My family wasn’t ready for that.”
Melissa*, a Philosophy student, chose to work and quit school momentarily to support her family. “Our only source of income is our small shop and it hadn’t been doing well, so I applied to work in the BPO industry as a customer representative agent.”
2. Health problems
Disease can be a huge hindrance to one’s education. In the university, the academic workload can get too heavy. Some individuals may not be able to take the amount of stress building up throughout the semester. This could end up in either physical or mental health problems, or both. A student may have a difficult time submitting requirements, catching up on lessons, and passing exams. For some, this could also mean having to drop subjects and give up the semester.
Chelsea*, a BS Biology student, was diagnosed with depression during her stay in the university. Because of this, she wasn’t able to focus. “I wasn’t able to prioritize my academics when my depression struck during my 2nd and 3rd year. Failing my exams became a trigger…because I didn’t want to be surrounded by people I couldn’t keep up with…I wasn’t able to focus on my academics because of that.”
3. Lack of subjects, SAIS
The university is notorious for its lack of faculty members, staff, and facilities. Hence, it could only provide a limited number of sections for its thousands of students who need it. The worst part is, we have the Student Academic Information System or SAIS where students are pit against each other to vie for slots in subjects. Something that everyone should be able to acquire, regardless of their status.
For Jhonnet Galit, a BS Human Ecology student, he was “a product of the birth pains of SAIS.” He explained, “I think it was 2016 when it was the first year of SAIS. There were problems with the registration and I ended up getting no slots. Since I was not eligible to graduate on time, I was not prioritized. I was delayed for 2 semesters because of that.”
Lack of slots was the problem for Jainno Bongon, a BS Nutrition student: “Midyear nun two years ago at dapat yun na huling chance ko to take Chem 160. Eh ‘di ko nakuha yung Chem 40 na prerequisite to 160. Puwede ko lang siya i-take ulit the following year.”
In the end, we should recognize that the problems of our delayed iskos and iskas are usually uncontrollable circumstances. Many of these problems are systemic and economical, and we can only guess the number of students delayed because of these issues that have long been prevalent, not just in UP. We must continue to assert for pro-student policies and our basic rights to ensure accessible and quality education—not just for UP students—but for everyone.
*Some students requested to remain anonymous and their names changed
WORDS: Mark Ernest Famatigan
ILLUSTRATION: Lindsay Anne Penaranda
EDITED BY: Mac Andre R. Arboleda