A few days ago, the most prestigious university in the country released the list of accepted applicants for AY 2012-2013. Of the more than 50,000 applicants, less than a fifth passed. Many take the test, only a chosen few get in. This particular university is among the last of the schools to release their entrance exam results, after they were held late last year. In between the test and the results is a desolate land filled with fear, hope, anticipation, desire. Breaths are held and fingers are crossed in this limbo. Such is the rite of passage for the majority of high school seniors.
I was ecstatic that my sister passed all four schools and gotten into the courses she had applied to. The suspense is over, and now the difficulty of making a choice that will potentially change her life forever is at hand. She hasn’t made a final decision yet, but we all know her heart is set. Except for maybe my brother, who wants me to persuade/force/influence my sister to take up a “practical” course. Acceptable choices include Management Engineering, Business Administration, and Accounting. A BS, rather than the less profitable BA. Courses that will make money. Courses with a bottom line and a corner office. Courses with a “future”.
I know my brother is only looking out for my sister, mostly because he knows how it feels, and he fears for her. He was a Communication Arts graduate, but he is now working for a large accounting firm and is working towards his Masters in Business Administration. He knows what the work environment is like out there, so I know he means well. But I refuse to play along. In my family, my parents had always given us a relatively free hand in our education, to choose our own path. I know I’m lucky – I know so many other people who were persuaded/forced/influenced against their wishes to take this course or that, and ended up being stuck and unhappy.
So, here I am, four years later, with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Hispanic Studies. Mostly unemployable. The corporate world doesn’t really want much to do with me and my interdisciplinary foundation in the social sciences (or my veritable knowledge in pop culture, though I might make a killing in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?).
But whatever my regrets about my own education were, they were mine and mine alone (and suitable for a different entry altogether). It was what I had wanted at the time, no matter how it turned out to be not quite what I had in mind. It was the ride of a lifetime, and I ended up learning so much. I will not belittle my four years in the academe – in one of the best higher learning institutions in the country – simply because capitalism is looking down at me smugly, handing me an entry-level job as opposed to the Php 150,000 signing bonus that major multinational corporations wooed some of my batchmates with.
Maybe she will become a successful writer and make it to the New York Times Best Sellers list, or maybe she’ll end up selling her soul to capitalism, peddling high-rise condominiums or fruity aftershave. Maybe she’ll be awful at Comm and shift to BS Biology or something. Maybe she’ll become an entrepreneur, or maybe she’ll be a lawyer, or maybe she’ll be an physicist. As I get older, I learn more and more that your course or your school are not what will define you. It’s your education and your experiences and what you make of them. I refuse to dictate her future for her. Let her achieve great things by herself. Let her make her own mistakes, as I made mine, as my brother made his. Let her find her own way. That’s what real learning is all about.