That Bittersweet Achievement: Graduation

Music: Sucre

not my photo: credit to owner.

This coming April 22, 2012 my name would be listed as one of the graduates of Masters of Industrial Relations (Major in Human Resources Management) from University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations. For almost four years (from 2007 second semester – November to 2010 second semester). I have sat in number of classes for 3 long hours each. Armed with only my pen and notebook and what I know from actual experience in the industry, guided by courses I took back in my undergrad and some articles assigned to us by our grad school professors – I survived.

Not without hardships mind you. You see I have decided to take classes back in 2007 because I felt like I have no direction in life at all. It seemed that my undergraduate degree was not enough to get me where I hoped to be, that the degree I have would only get me two steps forward. I wanted more but I was afraid of what that more would be. I chose between Organizational Psychology from a different school to Industrial Relations in UP SOLAIR. I took the entrance exam for the latter as I was urged to be a “through and through maroon blooded individual”. I prepared my documents, called my professors back in my undergraduate to give me a recommendation (yes I chose the professor who gave me one of my highest remarks so that it wouldn’t be that hard for her to recommend me haha) and she did. I remember the day I took that entrance exam. I was shittin’ myself in my math part. Haha. I never thought there was a need for the math part in that exam as we were to take mostly about national and industrial matters of human development. I cursed as much as I could and tapped my pen as fast as I could. The other person sitting beside me was looking at me angrily (he turned out to be one of my buddies in school from then and now is working with me here in the office).

I braced myself for the disappointment of not passing the exam and getting in after all it is still the University of the Philippines. A month later I saw my examinee number on the website stating that I got in the program. Two years after graduating from my undergraduate, there I was again, eagerly getting back to school which was ironic because back when I was in my senior year, I couldn’t wait to graduate and stay away from theories and term papers. Balancing school and work was a bit challenging, there would be Saturdays that I just wanted to sleep the whole day. There would be days that I couldn’t put my finger on my readings. There would be classes that I would just want to ditch because I was too sleepy to wake up at 5am to get ready for my 9am class. There would be papers that I would write just in the nick of time because I got lazy or I just got a tad bit busy. There would be professors that I had to argue with because our opinions wouldnt just meet the middle. Classmates that I disagree with or agree with. Presentations that we had to make for the articles that we read. Articles, book chapters, researches, and all of the things that we needed to read and recite about, they were all there.

After all the classes that I had to complete so I could get all the units I needed to earn my graduate degree, I studied for my comprehensive exam. January 2011 was a bit challenging for me. There were so many demands at work during that period and I needed to study the whole 3 years of my graduate school life again for the 8 hour exam for two days. To cut the story short, I passed my first day exam and failed my second day exam. I accepted it wholeheartedly because I knew from the second I forwarded my second part exam, I missed something. There was no room for blaming, for regret, for excuses just acceptance. After all it was I and I alone who had caused that failure. I always keep this in mind: I wouldn’t know the true meaning of success unless I know the true meaning of failure. Failing is an integral part of life; it is how you rise from it that defines you.

Seven months later, I had to retake the second part of my comprehensive exam. Again with so much work to be done, I couldn’t juggle studying and working anymore. I had to take a leave from work for one day and focus on studying for the next day’s exam. I have already scanned through my reviewers for the past weeks. I just needed the un-interrupted review day for everything. After one month, I saw my examiner number with a “high pass” rating on it. This was such a relief for me because it was my redeeming moment. You see, most of the people I know from school did not expect me to fail back in January. They already had assumed in their minds that I would be passing the exam back then with flying colors, I wanted to tell them that expectations lead to terrible disappointments, hahaha. That result erased all my worries away and that I am to graduate in April 2012.

Now that I have finally cleared everything in school, got my clearance from UP. Paid all the fees I have to settle for graduation and settled everything. Inching away from the actual graduation date, it is a bittersweet moment. With all the challenges to get to this with all the fun with all the hesitations with all the craziness, I am to graduate this coming April 22, 2012 – sweetest part of it. Bitter part is that, I will not be marching that day and receiving my diploma in front of the school because I have to be somewhere (which I will write about after). Nonetheless, it is still such a fulfillment. I don’t want to carry my own self in the pedestal, but this time I will. I can say I am proud that I survived it. I made mistakes but I learned from them.

If you guys are ever hesitating on getting into a graduate program just because you think it is hard, don’t. Yes it is hard, yes it takes some time away from your precious families and friends but at the end of it all – it is worth it. It is all worth it. The feeling of fulfillment is one of the best gifts you could ever give yourself. 


  1. Wow, we have the same reasons for taking the exam. Results will be out later today. I just don't expect graduate work to be that hard. Btw, how was your sched? Any tips on how to juggle work and acads?

    1. Hi, apologies for actually replying 2 months too late, got caught up with a few things that this blog became a platform of dust bunnies and cobwebs.

      Schedule was pretty crazy but it actually help with how you manage time and stress. Juggling work and school was not an easy feat, you had to do one thing and then another to make sure you do not fail.

      What I can give you is that:

      1. no matter how hard it becomes, never give up on it, go back to the sole purpose why you decided to go to graduate school.

      2. have fun and make friends, they make it a whole lot easier during and after school. Plus most of them will be your lifetime friends.

      3. Prioritize, choose the weekends for school, choose the weekdays for work. make a to do list and manage your time for both.

      4. Do not forget to spend time with friends and family. They make the crazy schedule bearable.

      5. Do not forget number 1 tip. always go back to the sole purpose why you entered graduate school in the first place. Then everything is all up to you.

      I had to make it all count for my 2 month absence. I hope those 5 would help. =)

  2. Hi Anneskie,

    I am planning to study
    for a graduate program in Solair. I'd like to ask if you can give me tips on what to study for entrance exams?

    1. Hi!

      I took the entrance exam back in 2007 so I hope that what tips I'd give would still be useful.

      1. Familiarize your self with the current events from Business to Politics they may ask about it and have you discuss its effect on human resources in the national sense

      2. Brush up on the math part, they do have it especially the problem solving, computation as well. You may review certain problem solving quizzes. (this is the part where i cursed way too much haha)

      3. Reading comprehension would be part of it too.

      4. Abstract Reasoning (if I could remember correctly)

      5. I think there was science there too but I am not too sure.

      Hope those help.

  3. thank you so much for the reply. I am really inspired by your story. Btw, entrance exam will happen on 4th of October, will keep you posted if I passed.

    1. Hi! You're so much welcome! I wish you goodluck with the entrance exam. should you need any assistance do let me know and I will try my best to help you out and make it a better experience for you. :)

      I am glad that this story in anyway helped and inspired you. I feel honored that at some point I was able to do that to someone. So thank you. :)

      Let me know how it went! Good luck. :)

  4. Hi Anneskie,

    Sorry it took me so long to reply. The exam was held last October 18 and the GSP results came out on Oct 28. But I was able to passed it! Well the math part was horrible hahaha!

  5. I'd like to know your opinion, which is better the thesis option or the comprehensive examination option? :)

    1. Hi!

      Congratulations!!! Yeap, well I had the same battle with the math part hahaha.

      As for whether its thesis or compre: do your pros and cons. For thesis it will require a lot of time and financial investment as you need to have statistics as well as respondents. But the good thing about it is that you have something published. For the comprehensive (which I took) its actually a 2 day intensive exam (8 hours per day or more) with a one day interview. You need to be very familiar with all the concepts, theories, frameworks and systems. It would require a lot of familiarization and understanding but its done very quickly.

    2. Correction: Interval not Interview hehe

  6. Hello! Thank you for writing this. I really want to take the entrance exam sobrang nerbyos lang talaga. Just want to ask kung may grade requirement ba sila sa undergrad para sa admission sa SOLAIR? Di ko kasi makita. Tho satisfied ko naman yung other requirements. Thank you so much! :)

    1. Hi, How are you? I am so sorry if this took a few days I have not been posting for a while due to adulting. =) alam ko wala naman grade requirement noong nag eam ako. Sa exam lang talaga ang meron, its combined from the last time I took the exam, current events related to Industrial Relations and aptitude test, yung mga problem solving eklat na logic at numerics. =) hope you do take the exam! Kaya mo yan. =)

  7. Hi Anne,

    Can you help me? I'm struggling in choosing between MA I/O Psychology or taking up MA in UP Solair. Can you tell me how did you end up? What are pros and cons or differences between two programs.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi! How are you? As much as I can I would try to. =) I was actually thinking of taking the Industrial/Org Pscyh and I can totally see where you are right now. The way I understand it, I/O will help you apply principles of Psychology in the workplace. How human behaves in the workplace and the mental processes that would help ensure achievement of business success. It would be closely related to Organizational Development though it is a different track as well. In Industrial Relations (in UP SOLAIR), it covers different facets, I majored in Human Resources Management while my other friends majored in Labor Management (this is more on the DOLE side in a nutshell)other majors are Labor Policy and Administration and Comparative Industrial Relations. If you come to think of it, this is more in the labor side depending on which major you would complete during your MA portion (you would start first with Diploma) these are theories in Labor, Unions, all about work. In I/O you closely work with individuals through Org Dev, Individual Careers and behaviors as mentioned above. If you feel like you want to lean more on understanding Labor, you can take IR as this would have courses in labor laws as well - which also has major in Human Resource Management but if your background is more on Pscyh and its theories and you feel like you are more aligned to understanding human behaviors in the workplace, you an opt for I/O but either are both great choices if you want to be a change agent in your organization. I actually am handling the Workforce Planning and Development in our organization despite me having MA in IR - this leans towards Org Dev but pays to know a thing or two about Labor Relations especially now. =) Hope my little blab would help you make the decision, both choices are great just know which niche you would want to have. =)


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