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8 Class of 2017 Summa Cum Laudes from UPD Share Their Advice to College Students

You can do it!

| July 3, 2017

Mary Anne Balane

CWA: 1.183
Course, College: BA English Studies, CAL
Did you know: I bleach and color my own hair! My mom and cousin sometimes help me though. And I love Yuri on Ice! I even mentioned my favorite character from that anime in the acknowledgements section of my thesis.

Study tips: One of the mottos or mantras that has gotten me through college is “it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be.” Before UP, I was a perfectionist. But when you’ve got four deadlines on the same day, you really can’t be a perfectionist anymore. So what I do is I try to focus on just getting things done. As in, when I make to-do lists, I sometimes write “Make ugly draft for final paper” haha I’ve found that it takes the pressure off a bit to just have some tangible output. Even if it is ugly at first, you can still revise it anyway. The important thing is you already have something to actually work on.

In connection with that, I’ve always believed that it’s better to pass something that you think is “mediocre” than pass something “perfect” late. This doesn’t mean that you just give up and pass something subpar tho. What I mean is just do your best to do your best work before the deadline, and even if you think it still needs improvement pero deadline na, i-pass mo pa rin. I’ve realized that, most of the time, I was just overthinking when okay naman pala yung work ko. Plus, if you go beyond the deadline, you just add more stress for yourself and your prof; you’re essentially extending your own suffering.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help as well.  In UP, you’re surrounded by all these amazing, intelligent kids and there’s sometimes this pressure to “keep up” and be competitive. But, sometimes when we’re too independent or competitive, we miss out on the chance to learn something valuable from other people or even just make studying even more fun! We have to admit that we’re not and we can’t be the best at everything. And that’s okay!

I’ve also found it helpful to section off difficult tasks into smaller, easier tasks. For example, if I have a 2500 word essay requirement, I’ll start early and just commit to writing 200 words in one day. That way, I get to celebrate little victories as well and I don’t get too overwhelmed with the BIG difficult task.

General advice to college students: Lastly, take care of yourself. Your health, especially your mental health is important — definitely more important than your acads.


Stephanie Ann Lopez

CWA: 1.102
Course, College: BA Psychology, CSSP
Trivia about her: I’ve experienced four courses in four years and I still graduated on time!

Study tips: Different study strategies suit different learners and different exam types. But in general, making mnemonics work pretty well when all you have to do is memorize facts or lists. When you’re faced with a multiple choice- or an essay-type of exam, it is better to learn the material by explaining it to yourself or to someone else using your own words instead of mindlessly memorizing paragraphs. Make your learning meaningful by relating it to your life and as much as possible, enjoy the process.

General advice to college students: My advice to college students is to love what you learn. If you feel that your major is not right for you and you have thought long and hard about it, have the courage to turn your life around. It’s not quitting. It’s making the brave choice. When you love what you learn, your grades will be reflective of your happiness. And whenever you feel like giving up, remember what had motivated you to go this far. Remember for what or for whom your hardships are for.


Monfred Sy

CWA: 1.166
Course, College: BA Comparative Literature, CAL
Did you know: Kabourophobia — I have an intense, irrational fear of crabs! Keep me away from Kinglers and Ginataang Alimango, please!

Study tips: Studying strategies aren’t one-size-fits-all. Different strokes for different folks. Nevertheless, I consider the following pointers very helpful in the recent years. Malay mo, epektib din sa’yo.

1) Re-conceptualize what “studying” is. Study = University-related responsibilities in general, including orgs, acads (what people usually consider as “study”), sidelines, love life, etc. With this mindset, you won’t blame yourself for socializing or doing orgwork, because everything contributes to a process of developing yourself in multifarious aspects i.e. studying.

2) Integrate your academics! Enlist in courses tightly knit with each other, or focus on a theme/topic/project that can be distilled into varied course requirements. You can also bolster each of your research interests by streamlining the contents of your classes.

3) Make time your BFF. Plan what you’re gonna do for the day on the bus. Start jotting down ideas for a paper while riding the Ikot. Make short but sweet reviewers na useable kahit may hangover ka!

4) Love what you’re doing! Stop whining and shift if that’s what your heart is telling you! You’ll save a lot of time, and studying will be a more exciting activity.

5) Speaking of love, humanap ka ng love life na masipag rin mag-aral, para masumpungan ka.

General advice to college students: According to Jean-Paul Sartre, “strut, fret, and delude ourselves as we may, our lives are of no significance.” Sad nu? But the point he’s trying to make is that we must weave meaning for our lives. College life in UP constitutes not a hellweek, but a hell-four-or-more-years, and if you’re willing to live through it just because you’re required or expected to, you’re in for a bad time. Live for something. To Alain de Botton, one of the meanings of life is service. While juggling your course requirements, try joining a protest rally or immersing in farming or fishing communities. We need to realize that there’s a bigger picture out there, and we don’t need to wait until graduation to reassert our participation in it. Start living for something bigger than grades — or the prospect of getting a stable job in this hell of a society — and don’t let education get in the way of your learning. The point of studying the world, after all, is to change it.


Martin Salud

CWA: 1.104
Course, College: BA European Languages, CAL
Did you know: Martin is leaving for France this September to pursue a master’s degree in teaching. He plans to return to UP after to fulfil his dream to be a professor. He is frequently torn between two lovers: Chickenjoy and Mini Stop chicken.

Study tips: Find out what strategy works best for you! I realized during my freshman year that I learn better when I read the assigned materials in advance and when I watch YouTube videos explaining the topic. Participate and make mistakes in class. Committing errors helps you retain information better. Try different techniques: make flashcards, study with friends, use the Pomodoro Technique or rewrite your notes. Always prioritize sleep over your studies!

General advice to college students: Go beyond your personal goals. Go beyond recognition, fame and wealth. Root your successes and aspirations in serving the people. Be critical, empathize with others, and challenge your own beliefs. No failure or setback is too overwhelming when you set your eyes on something bigger than yourself. The nation is waiting for you. Serve the people!


Congratulations to the entire Class of 2017! Padayon!