Expensive joke

By Estanislao Albano, Jr.

April 23,2006

Note: Relative to “Harrowing experience”  the following essay appeared in the Zigzag Weekly of April 23,2006. Just in case you wonder how come the foregoing column could be written at all despite  the contents of the second column, I personally do not know what exactly happened. All I was told by an in-law was that she had received a phone call on April 25,2006 from a BSU College of Nursing faculty member friend telling her to inform us to make Aglaia report to the school because they have decided to lower the cutoff to 97 as some of those who qualified were not reporting. The caller took care to say  that the development had nothing to do with the adverse publicity. I was and I still am tempted to suspect otherwise though. Whatever the truth, I can say now that the belated decision of the college to accommodate Aglaia as well as my decision to castigate the university publicly have been vindicated by her passing the board exams.


The Benguet State University (BSU) owes my family especially my younger daughter Aglaia an apology. Due to what now looks like a lack of coordination and meeting of minds between the College of Nursing and the Registrar’s Office, we have been dealt a most expensive and cruel joke. I assume  it will take sometime before we can fully put the episode behind us.

Desiring to enroll in the highly regarded nursing department of the BSU, Aglaia took the admission test of the university sometime in March. Early this month, we learned that she garnered a percentile of 97.80 which, according to the Registrar’s Office, meant she is a candidate for admission in the College of Nursing. The  person on the other end of the line told me that she should report to the school before April 19 for evaluation. When I asked what she should bring, the person said just her Form 138.

That information from the Registrar’s Office made the family’s hope that Aglaia would qualify soar because she has good grades. In fact, she ranked fourth in a batch of 89. Barring any other means of testing her worthiness to enter the BSU College of Nursing, I told myself that my daughter is practically enrolled in one of the best nursing colleges in the region.

Since Aglaia does not still know her way around in the city, I took a leave from my work for a day and accompanied her to the BSU on April 11. While waiting for the strike of 8 AM, we went through the list of qualifiers for the other courses and found that her name does not appear in the two alternative courses. I figured that must be because she is listed in Nursing. The man at the counter told us to proceed to the Office of the Dean of the College of Nursing where the lady who attended to us looked at the card of Aglaia and then gave us a small checklist of the enrolment requirements which xerox copies she said we should submit before the day ended. Since the Registrar employee I talked to on the phone did not say anything about birth certificates, we did not have it so I texted my elder daughter Pia to email it which she did. When we finally submitted the requirements, the lady said that Aglaia should return on the April 19 when the final list will be made available so that whether she makes it or not, she will be told what to do next.

I must mention that during the visit to BSU, I saw a notice for the second admission test for the College of Nursing scheduled on April 12.

As April 19 approached, our excitement heightened. Little did we know that it was going to be a very sad day for the family. It was good we did not follow the instruction of the lady at the Office of the Dean to report on that day because the relative we sent to look at the list texted that Aglaia’s name was not in it and that the cutoff was 98. We were crushed and mad.

I called the Office of the Dean and a lady who does not want to be identified told me the following among others: the college admits 150 Nursing freshmen a year and those who got 98 up were already 160 but they have to accommodate them all otherwise those who got 98 who will be bumped off will cry foul; that it was not the College of Nursing which set 95 as the cutoff for the college but the Registrar’s Office; that they have been advising the Registrar’s Office to send Nursing hopefuls to the college for prequalification before they take the exams so that when they pass the exam, there will be no need for further evaluation which would simplify things; that just like us, they too are victims of the fiasco. I was unable to follow her answer as to why they still have to conduct another exam when there were already enough passers in the first exams. I heard her clearly though when she said that there are some years when they conduct as many as three entrance exams.

The person at the Registrar’s Office who took my call said that supposedly, the April 12 exams should be the only exams for the College of Nursing and that aspiring nursing students should not have taken the general entrance exams. He admitted it was their office which set the 95 cutoff for Nursing. His tone was apologetic.

In fairness, I do not think that the peddling of false hopes to the examinees who got 95 to 97.99 and their relatives was intentional and attended with malice. But the result was the same: deep disappointment and wasted money and time. The university should determine the persons responsible and sanction them. Stupidity should never be countenanced in a reputable institution of learning like the BSU.

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