Saturday, August 16, 2014

After Math (On Studying and Graduating from a Science High School)

4:36 AM

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I’m proud that I’m a nerd, but I’m not just that – because people are never as simple as what we label them to be, and there’s no point in trying to force it.

One of the most common things I hear after I tell people that I went to a science high school is "Wow, that must mean you're smart." Something that is implicitly said is "Wow, that must mean you're a nerd." I won't lie – there is definitely some truth to that statement; however, just because someone's from a science high school doesn't automatically mean that that person is a nerd. For the most part, we're regular high schoolers. Nonetheless, I’ll admit there are definitely some differences. Hopefully, I can show just how different or how similar we are, while clarifying some common misconceptions.

Similarity: The non-existence of the perfect student

Some people think that if you study in a science high school, you have no problems with math, the science subjects are a piece of cake, and the humanities subjects are easier than the science subjects. On top of that, it’s also assumed that you always have your homework finished long before the deadline, and that your test results are at least decent. Let me be the one to tell you that those things apply to a very, very small minority, if anyone at all.

Like any regular high schooler, we struggle, we cram, and we complain about school. It’s not uncommon for people to do their homework (that was given three days before the deadline) the day it’s supposed to be turned in. If they can cram it the period before it’s due, that’s probably when they’re gonna do it.

Similarity: The social groups

Even in a science high school, there are people that are considered “the nerds." However, along with the nerds, you have the jocks, the cool kids, the band geeks (of both the classical and rock variations), the overacheivers, etc.— pretty much, the (stereo)typical high school setting. Of course, there are also those people who fit into more than one category, like the band geek who’s the best in the batch at Computer Science, or the nerd who likes to toss around a frisbee just as much as the varsity players do.

We also have our fair share of good looking people, which I never thought I had to defend before. It was only until I found out that someone was surprised about some of my batch mates appearing on a certain twitter account (hint: it’s synonymous to poultry seen) that I realized the nerd stereotype was being reinforced on us, even in terms of looks.

Difference: Curriculum

Now we head on to the differences, the biggest of which is the curriculum. When I talk about the curriculum in this part, I’m going to be talking about the pre K-12 one.

The DepEd curriculum followed by most schools had one subject each for Science, Math, Filipino, English and Social Science in its core curriculum per year, with a few adjustments and minor subjects added. In my school, we mostly followed the same curriculum for the humanities subjects. The only notable difference was that we studied Noli Me Tangere in first year, and El Filibusterismo in second.

For science high schools however, it’s pretty much the norm to have more than one science subject per year after first year. Some years, there would also be two maths. For my high school, I had Biology, Chemistry, and Physics every year from second to fourth, and two separate math subjects in second year (Algebra and Geometry). Because of the extra units of both math and science, a science high schooler would have taken enough math and science units for their first semester at college, which leads me to the next difference...

Difference: College Applications

Even before the application forms are given out, there’s already pressure to think about which college and course you’re going to take. That isn’t exactly a difference, though – every high schooler feels the pressure of choosing their future. But for science high schools, there’s a little additional pressure, and that’s thinking “I HAVE to pass this college because people will think I’m dumb if I don’t,” combined with “I HAVE to take a science course, or else my entire high school education will be a waste.”

To explain, science high schools usually require students to sign a contract upon admission. Part of that contract was that we enter an approved science course in college. That doesn’t seem like such a heavy promise to make at 12 or 13, right? I mean, who’d enter a science high school and not contemplate entering a science course for college? To be honest, most of us were heading towards there anyway. For some people though, there’ll always be that “What if?”

What if I was able to take music in college?
“What if I had gotten accepted into AB Creative Writing?”
“What if I put BS Economics as my first choice?”
“What if I had gone into BS Business Management?”

Those are only the what ifs of some of my batchmates – and I’m sure others before and after us have had similar ones.

One article alone won’t be enough to explain exactly how similar or different science high schoolers might be from those who went to different schools, and how they might feel about that. They have different pressures, while still sharing the essential ones with everyone else – and trust me, that’s enough to warrant its own set of frustrations, too.

But no matter what misgivings or frustrations or what ifs I have about entering my high school, I know that I won’t ever regret choosing it, even with the stereotype. I’m proud that I’m a nerd, but I’m not just that – because people are never as simple as what we label them to be, and there’s no point in trying to force it.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Article by Rio
Art by Yanna

Rio is (trying to be) an engineer-in-training, an athlete and a singer, with her love for science, sports, and music in that order. She's also (trying to be) a writer, with her trusty laptop/phone, sour cream flavored chips and/or strawberry ice cream. (Whether or not she succeeds is another story altogether).

Yanna is an aspiring wizard who enjoys doodling, longboarding, reading and writing. She is also a huge fan of anything Studio Ghibli, although she has yet to watch much of Hayao Miyazaki's films because most of her dvds are pirated. Although she is initially quiet and maybe even serious, those who get to know her will see just how optimistic and weird she really is.


  1. oh wowv great article rio! very accurate

  2. Interesting read! Pisay WV grad here and this article is totally relatable :)

  3. Pisay represent!

  4. What science high school did you graduate from, Rio?

    1. Philippine Science High School (Main Campus) :)

  5. True-ly! -From Masci!

  6. Pisayer here! :)

  7. But then, there are still considerable differences even inside the science high school system.

    1. I agree 100%. But this article would have been way longer if we went into the specifics :))

  8. Chuckled a whole lot at this post. So damn relatable. :)

  9. I agree with the similarities that you gave, but is that really all you were able to see.? There are more things to expound on. Like the fact that we also like to celebrate during the weekends, probably how much we hate Mondays, etc. The differences, well. I totally agree with the first one, with the curriculum. I graduated from Makati Science and I had two Sciences, two Maths, and three Humanities every year. Plus, I had to write theses (experimental research papers) for three years. I felt like I was already in college. My schoolmates and I were able to choose our vocation; we weren't limited to taking Science courses, so that's one thing. But again, these are not the only things that are different. While this article was insightful in its own way, feel that it is quite lacking.

    1. Those weren't the only similarities or differences I saw, but if I expounded on all of them, this would have been a very long article. :)) I agree that the similarities and differences aren't exactly, well, exact, either, but again, I was trying to condense it into less than 1000 words so it'd still be an "easy read" :)

  10. Miss my high school days. the best. Nice article! -Riscian

  11. This is very accurate. You rock! Paranaque Science here

  12. Based on your article, I got the conclusion that you're from Pisay. However, I don't think all science high schools have the same curriculum and rules on college course as yours.

    I'm from Quesci, but we didn't study Noli in first year and El Fili in second year. We also do not have the science course rule in college. I graduated BS Business Administration, even if I came from a science high school. I also have other college mates who came from different science high schools. So I don't think we can generalize your whole article as applicable for all science high school students. :)

    But nevertheless, it's still a good and very relatable article. :)

    1. Yes, you've come to the right conclusion :)) Though the college courses section was more of an error in phrasing, than anything. After writing the first draft of this, I asked some people from other science high schools if they had any rule regarding their college. That's when I found out it was just a Pisay thing. So I admit to that error; also, I suppose that my rephrasing got lost somewhere in translation/editing (and sounded a bit awkward).
      And thank you! :)

  13. I relate to every single thing and nafeel ko na Pisayer ka rin. ��

  14. Parscian here, batch 2007! :) Most of your article also reflects our situation, but I guess the differences we have are: 1) our Noli and El Fili were discussed during our third and fourth year, respectively; and 2) I believe we weren't forced to take up any science-related course for our college degree.

    Anyway, hooray for science high schools! :D

  15. I totally agree. I am not that intelligent to be in science high school. So I was a little bit pressured whenever I tell my friends that I came from a science high school or thinking I actually graduated from a science high school. Thank you so much for elaborating it well :)

  16. came from angeles city science high.
    member of pioneer class of '97.
    hated algebra.
    loved earth sciences.
    had 2 different science & math subjects each year (e.g. advanced chem, adv. physics, etc).
    never had any problems come college (except for damn algebra! -- sorry for the curse).
    noli and el fili were on junior, senior year.
    had florante at laura at 2nd yr, i think?
    most of my best friends came from high school.
    we still meet, every now & then. FB. WeChat.
    pursued sciences.
    then went on for med school.
    became a specialist.
    heck, some of my former students @ med school were graduates of my former high school.
    tuition fee back then? 300 pesos for the whole year.
    ah the glorious days back then...

  17. This is so relatable, i am being pressured in college bc everyone thinks that i'm super smart. but i am thankful that i studied in a science high school bc i don't find most college subjects so hard

  18. I'm an incoming grade 10 stundent form cavsciiii, that's some nice article :) :)

  19. My experience was getting really low self esteem because of being around so many smart ppl!! You thought you were smart when you were in elementary. But Science HS completely blew that out of the water.

  20. A good follow up article would be to write about where science high graduates end up after college. Going to a science high school with tuition fees paid by the country should go beyond taking a science course in college; the whole point of developing and supporting people who are more inclined to science and math are so that they could contribute to nation-building. I came from a UP high school and by the time I got to college and med school, the science high graduates weren't really much different from my schoolmates and I (especially academically), except that we are more socially-aware with aspirations more aligned with nation-building compared with our science high counterparts, especially those from the main campus.

  21. Well, this is true. I am not that perfect student myself. I also have my college and future "What ifs"

    I'm from PSHSWVC

  22. written content. I added new knowledge to my database for essay writing skill.ติว ielts ที่ไหนดี

  23. StaRSci student here! this is soooo accurate