Grad School 101: The Clearance

I’ll start blogging about the end of my Grad School life here in UPLB. I just finished my Masters degree last July. And yes, I’m only going through the process of getting cleared from the University (as a grad student) just now.

I got accepted in November of 2009, exactly six years ago. My grad school life spanned three Chancellors and consequently three processes in enrollment, clearance, etc. They do tend to change processes a lot, to my chagrin. I can never memorize what I’d have to do next, where I’d have to go to, who needs to sign, etc.

Anyway, I’ll put this here as some sort of informal documentation. Might help others like me – those who could never get the step-by-step processes right.

How to get University clearance (for UPLB Grad Students):

ONE. Get an account from OSA (Office of Student Affairs) for your Systemone* (the online registration portal) account. The complications for grad students here is because we are not handed our own Systemone account. It’s the UPLB Graduate School who handles the accounts and the student just gives a list of subjects to be enrolled and then it’s someone from GS who does the encoding in the system.

Ergo, no personal account name and password -which is needed to access the clearance form from the OSA website.

The student then needs to personally go to OSA and go to the COMMIT office (Room 7, 2nd floor, Student Union Bldg) to get that temporary account so you can download the clearance form. There. Phew. That’s the first step.

TWO. Have your clearance form signed by the UPLB Graduate School Secretary.

THREE. You need to get the signature from different offices under OSA. Start with the Scholarship and Financial Assistance Division (Window 4; someone needs to see if you have liabilities, etc), then go to the Counseling and Testing Division (Room 9, sign a logbook), then proceed to the Student Disciplinary Tribunal (Room 14, they have to check if you have a case or something), and then to the Textbook Exchange and Rental Center (last room down the hall, forgot what number; they’ll check if you have not yet returned a book you borrowed, if you borrowed from them). Now, before you go to the OSA Director, you have to accomplish all the other signatures (go to step THREE).

FOUR. You have to be strategic how to go about getting the next signatures. You need to be cleared from the University Housing Office (UHO) (bldg on the right hind side the College of Development Communication and beside the College of Economics and Management). You also need signatures from the University Health Service (which is a long walk from either OSA or UHO). You also need signatures from you home college’s reading room or library before you go to the UPLB Main Library (another long walk from either OSA or UHO or UHS).

My suggestion: Whatever’s the most convenient – considering your college’s location in relation to the three other destinations. For me, it’s CDC reading room, UHO, UHS, then Main Library.


  • In the UHO office, they’ll have you sign a logbook and check if you have stayed in any University dormitory or housing and if you have no liabilities.
  • In the UHS, you need to bring your UHS ID Number. Go first to the Records office, then to the Dental Office, then to the Billing window, then to the Administration office. Then you are done. Begin your descent from the Mountain of Doom (Hoho).
  • For the Main Librarian’s signature, make sure you’re clearance form has already been noted by your home college’s librarian.

FIVE. Have the OSA Director sign your clearance form.

SIX. The last signatory is the University Registrar (Window 10). Before they sign your clearance, they will hand you a small piece of paper. Additional requirements. Yehey! You need to provide them the following:

  • Plan of study with grade (get from GS)
  • Notice of admission (you should have your copy or you can ask GS)
  • Final exam result/report (get from GS)
  • Grad fee (present receipt; fee is Php 300)

THERE. BTW, this is for the UNIVERSITY clearance. You still need to get cleared from the Grad School. They have separate requirements listed in a checklist you can get in their office.

Additional requirement: You might have to sing ‘UP Naming Mahal’ at the Grad School before they sign your clearance:)

*As of November 2015, this portal will no longer be used by UPLB. Still waiting for the official new online registration platform. See, these change confuse me so much.

This is the thesis.

I had been under the ‘thesis-phase’ for quite some time. It actually took me 2 years and 2 months to finish it – almost half my entire debacle with this master’s degree.

Enrolled the first 3 units of my Masters thesis in the 1st semester (June-Nov) of 2013-14. I moved to ACCI Dorm and I ran a lot (I think I lost some weight during that time). I was also working on another research where I was the study leader while teaching journalism courses also. It was during this time when I also had my personal trips to Bacolod (June 2013) and Davao (August 2013) and I had BruceLeeTo, my new laptop. I was also single, reeling from a breakup (with Jed) from the end of the previous year.

I think it was also this time that I served as a PDA (Project Development Associate) at the Office of Student Affairs helping the Student Organizations and Activities Division until November of that year. I read and read and read and then submitted an initial list of research problems I thought I could do. Nope. My research adviser was looking for something… else. So nada for that first five months.

First attempt for a research problem. Fail.

First attempt for a research problem. Fail.

The following semester (2nd sem 2013-14, Nov-March), I enrolled the next 3 units of my master’s thesis. On personal matters, I was nominated as one of the board of trustees of our college organization’s (State Varsity Christian Fellowship) alumni association.

A significant event happened in November of 2013 – Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) devastated the eastern Philippines. It was not a time for celebration but it brought me a moment of epiphany – the thesis topic arrived.

January of 2014, my dog got hit by a car and we had to take care of him rather full time – as usual dog-lovers go. I went to Baguio for a week in February 2014 to read. Yes, I went to Baguio to read. (On side note, now I know I don’t function well in too cold a weather. My brain stops). March of 2014, Jed and I got together again. I was also still teaching full time and trying to finish a University-funded research. The second semester ended with me and a capsule proposal for my thesis. That’s as far as I went that semester.

The long summer (May-July 2014) were loaded with workshops for the new curriculum at the college. I was able to snuck some time to read for my thesis and attend a week-long camp in Puerto Galera.

The 1st sem 2014-15 (Aug-Dec) came by so quickly. I was still teaching (no study leave for me). The significant events of this semester was my oral comprehensive exam in October 2014, my 10-day trip to Nagoya, Japan in Nov 2014, and UPLB’s hosting of the regional sports meet in Dec 2014.

For the work on my thesis, I was able to come up with a full proposal which I presented during my oral comprehensive exam. It was approved and so the games, err, the data gathering began.

I was really expecting to be finished by the 2nd sem 2014-15 (Jan-May). Hopeful that I’d be able to march along the with other graduates come July. However, there were a lot of things that happened vis-a-vis my utter confusion on some aspects of my data gathering.

I was able to finish my other research, the university-funded one and submitted the terminal report in February 2015. I was teaching 5 courses (approximately 80 students) while also serving as resource person in various workshops within the University. We were also quite shorthanded in the department.

From January to March, I was working (with the help of two student assistants) on the manual content analysis of the 600+ articles. I purchased a mixed method research software (NVIvo) to help me in the qualitative coding but I guess I devoted much on the quantitative part that I was left with little time in the actual bulk of my thesis. I started qualitative coding in April and ended in June 2015. Started writing like crazy from June 5 till the first week of July. At one point, I wrote for six hours straight. Work, most of the time, came in between me and my data. I also had seven thesis advisees, six were able to graduate last July (hooray!).

I realized I couldn’t make it in June and I wouldn’t be able to march this July. That felt bad but I had to take it all in and continue working on my thesis.

There are many other stories tangled with my thesis-phase. But they need not be spilled out here. Suffice to say, I finish my complete first draft last July 9, got it approved, and successfully defended it from my guidance committee last July 18. And that’s that.

The few weeks leading to my defense saw me in house-arrest, powered by caffeine and sheer adrenaline. Sustained by God’s grace no doubt. From the moment I wake up (6am), I’d have a short quiet time, prepare coffee and breakfast and buckle down to writing. I’d nap an hour or two in the afternoon and then proceed to writing again once I wake up. I’d have about 2 hours of Skype with Jed before he goes to work and before I sleep at around midnight. I’d repeat this for 10 or maybe 11 days until my defense date.

I was sitting down a lot, no exercise ergo on ‘fat-build up mode’. I wrote and then I’d stop and think I’m not doing it right. I’d doubt myself lots of times. I felt hopeless on some days and sprightly and hopeful on some.

Screenshot 2015-07-07 14.03.44

‘You know this?’ – I often feel like I know nothing while writing my research. (LOTR was often my companion while writing)

I’d be a wreck on some days as well. Jed would always comfort me, letting me know he’s just there for me. That did gave me comfort. But my sole comfort and peace came from God. He brought me this far and He promised He’ll sustain me. That he did. He did not just let me survive but He made me thrive.

And now, I’m documenting this so when I’d face other challenges again, I’d go back to the day I thought I’d never make it and see how He has held me all throughout and then I know His promises are true.

Talk: The past weeks or so for me

What’s up? In a nutshell, I’ve been writing my thesis. The things in between, I shall reveal here. *dandandandan*

– I’ve re-arranged my room for the nth time this year. Moved my bed a little bit to the center and moved my desk near the window. I hope the view outside inspires my last (gruesome) writing sessions in the coming weeks.

– I’m being stingy since I’m not sure if I’ll still have a job come August. My parents have been very generous to their 28 year old daughter. Hihi. I’ve some savings also. The Lord is my provider and He never fails.

– I’ve gone back to reading Terry Pratchett. I’ve been initially reading LOTR 1 but I got tired and I wanted some dry humor to break my thesis-spell. JRR Tolkien seems to continuing my thesis-spell what with his serious, non-stop journeying and perils and dooms, so I shifted (for now) back to Pratchett.

– I’ve had a mini breakdown of sorts. I cried so hard my nostrils weren’t sure if they’d help me breathe or declog first. My eyes were so puffy, Jed and I took a photo of my ‘slits’, formerly my eyes. Jed’s embrace all throughout the ‘breakdown’ session was so reassuring that I cried more. Hehe. I was just so tired of running after everything, getting near the finish line but being burdened by troublesome injuries or blockades (metaphorically, of course). I just cried and cried and then it was over. The finish line is still “near yet so far” but I’ve got my second wind now.

– I still sleep for 7 hours every night. Nothing can make me sleep less.

– For my breaktime, I had been watching this ‘teen series’ The 100 (read as ‘the hundred’). I finished season 1 but Jed won’t give me season 2 just yet. He said I’ve to finish my manuscript first. Oh well.

– I’ve been trying to cook lots of my food these days. Lots of ‘pa-cham’ (pa-chamba cooking). I’m learning. I will become a good cook and my family will be well-fed. Hehe

With Hansel

Random photo of our cat and his ‘watchulukinat?!’ look. He doesn’t have a thesis to write. Good for him.

That’s it for now. Just had to write it here. Haven’t been journaling much, what with thesis-writing taking the fun out of ‘writing‘. And that being said, I’ll go back to writing now. Ciao!

Talk: Teacher, Teacher, how do you do?

When I was 11, I wrote that I wanted to be a best-selling novelist. Come up with one solid, best selling book and live comfortably.

When I was 15, I had a huge crush on this college basketball player. I wanted to be a court side reporter and interview only him, regardless if he’s the best player or not.

My mantra then: “I.WILL.INTERVIEW.ONLY.HIM.”

When I was 18, I had no idea what I wanted to be except to be good and productive citizen of this world, provide for my family, and read as many books as I want, hardbound copies.

When I was 23, I thought of being an MMA fighter. I thought about that for sometime, got my butt kicked in training every day, still thought about fighting, couldn’t cut my weight to the optimum weight and decided against it because I wanted to be a teacher pala talaga. 

Unconsciously, I’ve been teaching since I was about 10.

I’ve been teaching my paper dolls, teaching kids at Sunday School classes, teaching group mates during group meetings, teaching cell group mates, teaching campers, teaching my pets, teaching myself.

All these time, I was being geared to be a teacher – my nanay is also a teacher, my tatay is also a teacher/pastor. I love learning, I love sharing – the writing, talking, and well, fighting, were all part of the package of my brand of teaching. (Note: do not take ‘fighting’ literally. hehe).

Technically, my contract as a teacher ended last May 31. I’ve been teaching in UPLB for 7 years already. Not sure if I will be renewed (pending request to the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines). I have not yet finished my Master’s Degree (a requisite for continuing in UP).

I would love to still teach here but if ever I would not be renewed in UPLB, I know I’ll still be teaching wherever I go.

[Thesis Writing] How I roll the past few days

Typical day be like:

6am wake up, make breakfast, qt, take a bath
10am goes to the office to CONTINUE WRITING
12 pm watch UFC video or some inspiring documentary (recently “Klitschko” (2011). haha)
2:12 pm stand up, stretch, tulala, nganga
2:30 pm CONTINUE WRITING (while nibbling on corniks or dried mangoes or some chips)
4:30 pm content of what I’ve been writing doesn’t make sense anymore. stop. stare at the ceiling while still nibbling on whatever food
6:00pm pack up. go home. thinking while walking.
6:30pm dinner
12:00pm brain shutdown.

So far, I’ve been like this since Monday and I’ve come up with about 60 pages (1.5 spacing) of Chapter 4 (Results and Discussion) but that’s only about 1/4 of total manuscript. Tomorrow, the schedule will change as I have 10-1, 1-4 classes and exercises to check. Aah, such a refreshing change (not sarcastic).

I’m tired.

Now, back to thesis writing.