Like other Universities, DLSU has its own measures to ensure that they admit quality students—students who have the potential to succeed in their respective fields. For admissions, the University uses the DLSU College Assessment Test (DLSU-CAT).
DLSU-CAT is a set of tests that measures an applicant’s quantitative, verbal, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. In addition, the University uses the exam to select applicants who deserve and need the University’s offered scholarship programs.
According to Institutional Testing and Evaluation Office (ITEO) Director Violeta Valladolid, the DLSU-CAT has been proven to effectively test the abilities of the applicants evidenced by a predictive validity study they conduct every academic year.
The office is responsible for administering the admission exams for undergraduate and graduate programs.
In the previous academic years, DLSU saw an increase in the number of accepted applicants because of pressures to increase revenue through University initiatives such as the Rationalized Classroom Utilization
On February last year, the Office of the Chancellor released an official statement, which explained that the Rationalized Classroom Utilization (RCU) program will generate enough revenue to increase “faculty development and research initiatives,” in line with the goal of turning the University into a full-fledged research university.
Admitting more students is the only way the University can increase the funds for these initiatives while maintaining reasonable tuition and fees.
Since tuition and fees would have to increase beyond acceptable rates to accomplish its goal if it did not increase the number of students to pass the burden to, the University saw accepting more applicants as the next most viable option.
This, however, is the source of the criticism from many. Many are saying that the University is lowering its academic standards by admitting more applicants.
University Fellow and Economics professor Dr. Tereso Tullao Jr. though, believes that admitting more applicants does not necessarily hinder the University from getting the best students across the country.
“Many of our students are able to compete internationally and many of our graduates are admitted in various graduate programs abroad,” Tullao furthers.
Even if the University admits students who do not perform well initially, it has mechanisms designed to develop their overall academic capacity.
“With the excellent academic and non-academic programs provided, as well as with the quality learning environment and experiences they are exposed to, our present students are trained to be the best that they can,” Valladolid explains.
Raymund Habaradas, a professor from the Management and Organization Department, however, attests that the DLSU-CAT should not be seen as an accurate way of measuring student ability. He furthers that it does not necessarily determine the overall quality of the student enrollees. Habaradas believes that other avenues such as departmental qualification examinations give a more concrete evaluation of a student’s academic capacity.
A departmental qualification examination is the screening process administered by respective departments to a select number of students when they reach their sophomore year. Passing the exam will qualify the student to take the degree program’s major courses.
The exam for Applied Corporate Management (APC) students, for instance, which includes a written exam and an interview, assesses both intellectual capabilities and oral skills of students.
Similarly, Dr. Martin Ilao from the Chemistry Department believes that the admission test falls short in effectively determining a student’s full capabilities. He explains that there are various factors that could affect a student’s academic performance that the DLSU-CAT cannot capture. These include social factors and emotional issues.
To address these gaps, the test items in the DLSU-CAT are periodically reviewed and revised. They are patterned after a comprehensive evaluation of the results of the predictive validity study the ITEO conducts annually.
One notable change in the DLSU-CAT is the removal of the essay section for A.Y. 2010-2011 applicants. Critical thinking and problem solving skills test replaced the section.
Other than the DLSU-CAT, the University has other means to ensure the quality of students that will enroll at DLSU. The University also uses scholarship programs to attract and encourage the best students in the country to enter the University.
The Scholarship and Financial Assistance Office (SFA) recently launched the Vaugirard Scholarship Program. This scholarship gives selected underprivileged students from public schools the chance to study in the University.
Another scholarship, the Star Scholars Program, is given to the top 200 examinees of the DLSU-CAT.