04 February 2017

Enrollment and the Rude DLSU Office Staff


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Perhaps I was a tad too cocky about the De La Salle College entrance examinations. It was challenging, yes, as could only be expected of what was even then regarded among the nation’s top universities. But even if I had doubts about one or two of the Math-related questions, I was still relatively confident that I would be accepted.

But by early April, I was hearing from the grapevine that a few of my classmates who had also taken the exams had already received letters from the DLSC Admissions Office informing them that they were accepted and likewise gave them their dates for enrolment. Initially, I wasn’t too bothered because it was, after all, summer vacation. Although I was for all intents and purposes my Mom’s slave at the farm, at least for a couple of months I didn’t have to think of any school work.

But with each passing day in the month of April, I was starting to get more and more fidgety. I had not taken qualifying exams in any other university and frankly, didn’t want to. Towards the end of April, I jumped whenever the dogs barked at whoever was at the gate, anxious to find out if it was the mailman they were barking at.

April came and went; and still the mailman brought me no letter. By the first week of May, reality started to kick in and I finally started to entertain thoughts of taking qualifying exams at the University of Santo Tomas or some other university. It also started to occur to me that I just might have left it too late and also started to worry about what to my family was unthinkable – that I would spend the start of the next school year as part of a statistic called the out-of-school-youth.

But one Thursday morning, the eighth of May, the dogs were barking like crazy at someone at the gate. It was the mailman. The envelope of the letter he handed over had the seal of DLSC. My heart was racing as I tore it open as soon as I got inside the house, albeit I was also wary that the letter inside would contain regrets. After all, it was already May and many freshmen had already been enrolled.

In a few more moments, however, I was able to heave a sigh of relief. I was in. Decades later, I intimated to my friend and fellow administrator Cora Abansi that the story of my life was such that I frequently got the things that I wished for, but only after passing through the proverbial eye of the needle. Admission into DLSC was a perfect example.


Several days later, I was at the Taft campus with my Dad. My Mom, stingy that she was, sent me the exact amount she read from the DLSC prospectus and typically failed to read or simply ignored the fine print about tuition rates being subject to change without prior notice. But more on this after a while…

My Dad and I left Lipa at dawn and were at DLSC before eight. We thought we were early, but to my chagrin, once inside, there were long queues already everywhere. It was a rude welcome to college, and this very first enrolment took me all of two days to complete.

Dad accompanied me because he was supposed to help me enroll. But, being Dad, he had bought a newspaper before we entered the Taft campus and soon found himself somewhere comfortable to read it. It was annoying then; but in hindsight, I now understand that he was doing me a favor. After all, I had been enrolling myself since I was in elementary. Dad not being helpful forced me to find my way about the campus and familiarize myself with the process.

It was tedious, that much I could already see. There were long queues for every stage of the enrolment process. Moreover, while the student guides were friendly and helpful, the staff manning the office windows throughout this process were unsmiling and rude. It was worlds away from enrolment in Lipa where it was always a breeze and people were always friendly.

It used to annoy me that people could be so rude to the very people who put food on their own tables – the students. In time, I would discover that these very same people were only that way during enrolment, the stress brought on by the endless queues reducing them into scowling wrecks. In my latter years at the Taft campus, I learned to befriend many of these administration staff so that I could coax smiles from them even during enrolment. Sometimes, at the long window where the course cards were given, I would find myself being served even ahead of those who were at the window earlier.

Decades later when the administrative side of operations at De La Salle Lipa was under my jurisdiction, I would insist on frontliners being friendly towards students and their parents particularly during enrolment season. I never forgot the rudeness of the staff at the Taft campus.

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