How a whole accounting class in Davao ended up in the honor roll

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Section A of Ateneo de Davao University's BS Accountancy graduates of 2018. (Christian Job Martel)

Accounting is one of the most notoriously challenging courses to take in college.

While finishing the program can pay off, since graduates can become accountants, certified internal auditors, CPAs and budget analysts, they still need to pass a licensure exam to practice.

So here’s a surprise development: This season’s Ateneo de Davao University graduation saw a whole class of 44 students finishing with Latin honors.

Nine of them graduated summa cum laude (with highest distinction), 20 magna cum laude (with great distinction) and 15 cum laude (with distinction).

People congratulated them on social media. There were those who were skeptical, but others explained that the students were the ones who maintained their averages in the program — hence, the achievement.

They commented that the accounting program has a rigorous “elimination system” and the section might be the cream of the crop of the graduating batch.

Stakes are high 

Brylle Barug, the students’ representative, told that it was all a result of collective “hard work.”

According to him, AdDU’s accounting program is “difficult yet manageable.”

He said that accounting majors in their university have to meet a certain standard ever since graduates of their degree have been included in the top ten CPA (certified public accountant) board takers in 2008.

Some of its recent graduates took leading spots following board examinations:

  • 2008 — Raymond Ong Abrantes, 9th
  • 2009 — Joseph Bulao, 3rd
  • 2011 — Elfin Puentespina, 6th
  • 2013 — Richard Saavedra, 1st
  • 2015 — Sharmaine Mamaed, 4th
Graduating students on a ceremony. (The STAR/File)

According to its website, AdDU produces the highest number of board passers and has the highest passing rate among the schools in Davao. It also has the highest CPA passers in Mindanao.

“Ever since the university started to top the board exams, the stakes are high, thus increasing the standards,” Barug said in an interview with Interaksyon.

Standard after standard

Apart from the university’s standards, accounting majors have to comply with the program’s “division standards” as well.

“It’s a retention policy that is more rigorous than what the university initially accepts,” Barug said.

Another graduate, Christian Job Martel, noted that it’s a separate retention policy only imposed on their program.

Barug’s batch was “filtered” in sophomore year. Students had to maintain a certain average for their majors comprised of accounting, tax and law subjects.

“If you want to be retained in the program, the averages of (majors) must be at par with the division standards. The university standards do not specifically define the retention policy in accounting,” he said.

“Averages matter, both for the major and all of the subjects. If you don’t qualify with the division standard, you are advised to shift.”

“Averages matter, both [for] the major and all of the subjects. If you don’t qualify with the division standard, you are advised to shift,” he continued.

Accounting students are also oriented about the elimination process beforehand so they are fully aware of the implications.