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Returning to DLSU and the Decision to Drop Commerce


Initially, being home instead of at school was something of a treat. No Accounting, no Algebra, no Business Math and no ROTC to worry about. There was just work at the farm, which I was used to, anyway. As the months passed, I began to be filled with a sense of dread brought on by the inevitable need to face up to reality.

I had not gone to see my college’s dean to take an official leave of absence, so even that was something to worry about. But this, as a cause for concern, paled when compared to the real problem that I knew I would have to face soon whether I liked it or not. Not having bothered to collect my course cards, I didn’t know if I was still a DLSU student or if I had already been kicked out. The Registrar’s Office was supposed to have sent my grades to my parents by postal service, but for one reason or another, they never arrived.

Late in May of 1977, after weeks of procrastination and my Mom’s nagging, I finally decided to retake control of my destiny. If I had already been kicked out, I would try to be brave, tell my parents and ask to move to another university. But first, I had to find out; so off I went to DLSU.

The Dean’s Office was at William Hall, the very same building where I was billeted when I was the Little Olympics coach of the Lipa football team when I was a high school senior. There was a long queue outside the office and I sat next to this mestizo feller who was chatty and wanted to know what I was there for. Curiously, it was so much easier to tell him – a total stranger – my problems than it was to tell my own parents. As it happened, the reason he was also in line to see the dean was for a problem similar to mine. I never even asked for his name, but he wished me good luck when I was told that the dean was ready to see me.

Inside, it was comforting to discover that the dean was this kindly middle-aged woman who was more motherly than stern. I told her that I had not taken a formal leave of absence but had been away for an entire school year. She asked why, and when I told her I had been sickly, she was very understanding. Of course, that wasn’t entirely true; but I wasn’t about to make a damn fool of myself by telling her why I really had to be away for an entire year.

Soon she asked her secretary to get a folder with all my personal details. I braced myself for the worst because I was certain that she had my grades before her. Before long, she told me in a kindly manner that she would authorize my enrolment but also warned that I would have to try a bit harder this time around. My grades, she said, weren’t very good at all, and I was just six units short of being kicked out.

I would have jumped with sheer joy if I wasn’t at the Dean’s Office. She had absolutely no clue that what she had just told me was the best piece of news I had had since I first enrolled at DLSU.

My next order of business was to visit the Registrar’s Office to collect my course cards. I was so buoyed up by the news I just received that I didn’t even mind the queues there. When I finally took a look at my grades, as expected I had flunked Business Math and Accounting. I also failed a few other subjects, but more for my skipping classes than lack of ability.

This was additional good news. The university policy was to kick out students who had accumulated 24 units of failures. But students were also allowed a reprieve if they got grades of 2.5 or higher – the grading system at DLSU was 0-4, as it is in the present day – in the subjects they had previously failed. The units of these subjects were then removed from the accumulated total.

Of the subjects that I had failed in the second semester of my freshman year, three or four were of the sort that were more my line. I was very confident of getting good grades in these subjects once I retook them. But I also had to make an important decision. We used to hear from upperclassmen that we ought to watch out for Calculus because this was one subject that students routinely failed. I knew from high school that this was going to be yet another bridge too far.

There was only one way to avoid Calculus – I had to drop the Commerce half of my program. If I continued at DLSU under the Liberal Arts program alone, I just needed to retake Business Math and then it was so long to all the Math subjects in the world for all eternity.

Because I had known since my freshman year that Accounting was not one of those things that I wanted to do for the rest of my life, before I headed back to Lipa I had already made up my mind to drop Commerce. I had, however, absolutely no intention of ever telling my parents.


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