I Chose My Dream Course Over My Dream School, Here’s How I Came To Terms With It

Letting go of a childhood dream ended up being the most liberating thing I'd done for myself.
by Maia Ebora   |  Jun 20, 2023
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When I was young, my dad constantly reassured me that I’d get into my dream college every time I worried about university life. 

And I used to believe it. The University of the Philippines Oblation statue has always been a part of my vision boards, and I’d always draw a sablay on any photo I had. I used to think I’d wear maroon to every University Athletic Association of the Philippines game I went to and that I’d get to brag about being the first Iska in the family.

ALSO READ: Here's What to Do if You Don't Pass Your Dream School's Entrance Exam

Despite the different paths I almost considered before, that Oblation statue remained in my vision boards, and I just got better at drawing a sablay on my photos. It never crossed my mind to let go of my dream of being an Iska. I used to think I would ace the University of the Philippines College Admission Test, but years of telling myself that I’d get into UP had a different effect on me. Instead of finding it motivating, I ended up pressuring myself with the thought of UP. Deep down I was scared because my whole life, I truly believed it was UP or nothing. Even in college applications, I only sent forms to UP willingly. I was so caught up in my dream that I failed to consider anything else.


UPCAT day came and I tried to be as relaxed as I could. My family was there to send me off and we had my pencils blessed at a chapel. The next five hours felt like a blur. I got a seat next to the window, with a perfect view of the Oblation statue. Every time I’d encounter a question I didn’t know how to work my way around, I’d peer through the window and offer an apology to my younger self. When the exam was over, I didn’t even have the energy to look for my parents anymore because all I felt was dread. I remember slumping into the backseat of our car and refusing to talk for the rest of the ride home.

The day the UPCAT results were released, I sat alone in our living room at 3 AM after hours of trying to access the server. And when I did, I received the biggest news that younger me had looked forward to. There was only one problem: I didn’t get in. 

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The University Predicted Grade cutoff to get into UP Manila was 2.1, and I got a devastating 2.2. Seeing that I missed by mere decimals was a blow that still stings a little to this day. I remember being quiet and numb for a whole day, until I was standing in front of my mom in the kitchen, finally heaving the tears I’ve bottled up for months. Only one thought flashed in my mind: I didn’t get into UP. 

People said that with my UPG, there’s a good chance that I’d still get into UP, or try to earn enough credit from a different university and then transfer later on. For days I debated on applying for reconsideration for a different UP campus and still fulfill my dream of being an Iska, but that meant I would have to get into a degree I never really wanted. 

At the time, UP Manila’s Public Health program didn't accept transferees. So, what now? I chose Public Health for a reason, and I wasn’t willing to steer away from that path. I want the RMT at the end of it all, I want to wear ns and make lawns of bacteria on petri dishes without wasting any of  my time—there’s still med school at stake. 


These experiences are more important than receiving a sablay and wearing maroon to UAAP games. After all, I can still do better and get a chance at UP’s Medical School anyway, and there’s still so much more to achieve ahead.

Eventually, I decided to let go of the UP dream and go for what really matters. Within two weeks, I enrolled into FEU’s Medical Technology Program and started  making friends. In the back of my mind, this experience would have been different if I weren’t so scared. Here I am now, exhausted from all the notes I take and all the charts I’m memorizing, but peaceful in my own decision to pursue what my heart really wants. 

Still, passing by UP Manila to this day isn’t easy. But the secret to coming to terms with rejection is to open your heart to different perspectives. UP isn’t the only place to fulfill my dreams of becoming the Cristina Yang of my generation, and it sure isn’t the only institution that can give me the education I deserve. 


Another secret? Don’t be afraid to make changes to your childhood dreams. After all, we were all so little, how were we supposed to know better? Your present self will always have more to say than your younger self. Yes, she may be sad and even disappointed, but you have so much time to make it up to her. At least there’s that. 

Today, I find comfort in knowing that my inner child will forgive me for choosing what mattered more. I’m proud that I chose to free myself from the fear and dread that surrounded what was once a childhood dream. 

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Maia Ebora