A couple of months ago, I chanced upon a friend and we somehow ended up talking about licensure exams and the pressure for students to do well on them. Back then, I was a double degree major with my second program being accountancy, while he was in engineering. I could relate. A couple of terms later and a lot of things have changed—I’ve since dropped my business course and I’m now on my final year of college—yet I find that our conversation all those months ago still rings true today.
Licensure exams don’t matter as much to me now as compared to when I was also a business major. But as he was in the field of engineering, licensure exams were of prime importance—and how could they not be? For most, if not all, licensure exams are the key to securing a career path in a student’s chosen field. Many employers require passing such exams as the bare minimum in hiring, for example, and several universities offer incentives to those who top the exams, and so do companies, who fight over the “best and brightest” by luring them in with the promise of higher pay than their competitors.
This is understandable—to give incentives to those who perform well in the boards. It can be justified as positive reinforcement. What I am not a big fan of, however, is the undue stress and strain that students become subject to because of the undeniable pressure to do well in such licensure exams.
My engineering friend had been ranting to me that a professor in one of their major subjects was saying how students like him, who had been finding the topics discussed in class hard to grasp, should shift out of the course. The logic behind this was that if, already, the students couldn’t handle their undergraduate classes, in effect, they would have a hard time answering the licensure exam, or fail it altogether. It was an unfair proposition, and one that can easily lead students to become unmotivated and jaded—and it didn’t end there, apparently. The said professor went on to say that students should not consider taking the boards if they feel they will fail it anyway.
While the same was not explicitly said to us in my business classes, I felt the same way. And for someone who did not particularly top the classes or do exceptional in them, I felt like I was not working hard enough, that it was almost impossible to meet their expectations. While I was worrying about whether or not I could even reach the minimum grade of 83 to pass, the professors would constantly taunt us about the boards—bragging about passing percentage rates and board toppers of the past, and lamenting that we’ve somehow performed worse in recent years. The environment became too toxic, and I shifted out of the program.
Is this what Lasallian education should be, though? While I understand that licensure exams are important to big universities such as ours, why should professors be the ones to discourage students, drag them down, and potentially stomp on their hopes and dreams? Yes, licensure exams and a university’s performance in such are important, but educational institutions should prioritize a student’s education first and foremost.
We should be prioritizing learning more than anything else. Because if the quality of learning is good and the students’ technical knowhow and skills are the ones being underscored and emphasized, and not the unwarranted pressure to pass or top the boards, then the rest will ideally follow. If our professors are confident in their teaching and believe it to be effective, then we shouldn’t have a problem.