Picture a university gymnasium where hundreds of students are gathered in a line that coils around, around and around a covered court. Imagine a three-storey building and queues of people with cash in hand, snaking through both sides of the building’s hallways, stairwells and floors.
These aren’t the queues for UAAP cheerdance tickets or the after-office line for the sweepstakes. Rather, such tumultuous scenes are but common occurrences in the sturm and drang that is enrollment season at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
There are three ways for UP students to obtain the subjects they need and/or want in a semester: online pre-registration through the CRS, manual preenlistment during enrollment and post-enrollment prerog.
CRS stands for Computerized Roulette System. No, not really – but it often feels that way for every Isko and Iska who had been denied a slot at a desired class, and whose bid at academic fruition was compromised.
The CRS (what it really stands for is Computerized Registration System) team uploads the list of classes for the forthcoming semester at least a month before enrollment starts. Students then create a list of desired classes, from which CRS will randomly select the ones where they will eventually be enlisted.
Subsequent weeks usually constitute two rounds of this collegiate lottery, a phase that launched – and till further notice, will continue to launch – a thousand Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr/[insert preferred social network here] updates, for better or for worse.
Most people I know post their sem schedules online, with some even tagging selected contacts. Among the reasons why people engage in such my-academic-life-is-an-open-book behavior are: 1) to find out if they share common classes or breaks with friends, org mates, batchmates and what-have-they, 2) to gloat about the highly-contended subjects they got, 3) to broadcast their disappointment and perhaps oh-so-discreetly use misericordiam to get more desirable subjects, and 4) to notify key people – which may or may not include their secret crushie/s – about their free time, the kind most conducive to extracurricular activities.
The quantity and quality of subjects obtained through CRS will determine the difficulty level of the student’s next step: manual preenlistment, otherwise known as prerog (short for teacher’s prerogative). There are two ways to go about this arduous task. The first way involves waiting at the door of each department during enrollment week and beating n number of students for a slot in your desired classes (be they majors, electives or general education subjects) with n ranging anywhere from 9 to 99.
The second option is to prerog with the professor of the desired subject/s on the first meeting of that class. To win that coveted slot involves any or a combination of the following methods: an ID raffle, a dance number, or a song rendition.
There’s a reason why UP has earned the moniker “Unibersidad ng Pila.” But for all its travails, the UP enrollment system is as much a test of character as it is a test of stamina and patience. Students who start with less than their desired number of units are compelled by necessity to outwit, outplay and outlast their fellow slot seekers.
Doing so requires a steady amount of research (because it’s important to be up-to-date on available slots), resourcefulness and foresight. It’s important to know one’s priorities (differentiating between subjects needed now and those that could possibly be enlisted on another sem) and how to budget time wisely.
Lastly, enrollment at the State U is in itself an out-of-the-classroom learning experience. We may not always get what we want, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. In the end, we learn to accept and make the most of what we have, knowing that everything happens for a reason and nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.