As we welcome another academic year, still in the clutch of the persistent, ever-mutating COVID-19 virus, we can’t help but be proud of everyone that makes up NONESCOST for showing up and helping continue the school’s mission – produce glocally viable graduates through innovative learning and research environment, relevant community and industry engagement and to contribute to nation-building by providing education, training, research and resource-creation opportunities in various technical and disciplinal areas.
Specifically, we tip our hats in admiration to these people:
The students who continue to plough through despite the tough class situations.
Teachers and staff who do their job without cease and faint-heartedness, despite the dangers in their physical and mental health; and
Parents and guardians who continue to provide support in so many ways.
Indeed it takes a village to educate, and NONESCOST will not be able to survive and accomplish everything it had accomplished during the pandemic without everyone’s help.
But today, in this article, we will not be celebrating what we have accomplished. Rather, we will do the opposite.
We will be taking a closer look, a microscopic evaluation, and a critical stance on who we are, who we represent, who we are evolving to be as a College.
It is the beginning of the academic year after all, and as NONESCOST continues to pursue world-class distinction, it is important that we also start solidifying our identity as an institution in the process.
To achieve this, we will start with the school’s most important asset, the very reason why we exist --- our students.
Are You A True, Green–Blooded NONESCOSTIAN?
A lot has been said about NONESCOST students but no formal definition has been created and accepted so far. Therefore, our identity as a college, as a salient academic force in Northern Negros, is not truly cemented yet.
So… what are we really?
What kind of “vibe” are we giving off as an academic institution?
Are we a school for the rich or are we a school for the poor?
Do we attract smart students or dumb ones?
Are we on the list of every incoming college student’s top priority for admission or do they consider us only when other colleges and universities had turned them down?
How are we molding our students?
Are we training them to become the nation’s next scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, service workers, athletes?
Or are we educating them to become insignificant cogs in the wheels of the harsh, competitive economy, trained to work but never to question, think, initiate and lead?
These are immense, ideational questions that need concrete answers. That’s why now more than ever, is the perfect time to determine and establish our identity as an existing, pulsating being; a living institution.
It is only through this that we strengthen the cords that bind us. For whether we admit it or not, our lack of face-to-face interaction is slowly diluting our connection as an academic community. Our ability to influence and strengthen on a daily basis the values that we seek every NONESCOSTian to develop has been seriously hampered because of the ongoing crisis.
What do we mean by “identity”?
Merriam Webster provides a practical definition on this current buzzword. Identity according to it is the “distinguishing character or personality of an individual.”
When applied to an academic institution, this concept takes on a more detailed exposition. Nageswaran expounds
“School identity is about fostering collaboration and a sense of school dignity among your students and distinguishing their connection to the school. Students also tend to live up to expectations, be them positive or negative, so an identity that is carefully designed to elicit the best outcomes for students will drive achievement and behavior. 
Furthermore, when trying to establish an academic institution’s identity, Krueger advises that we should start by
“Defining who you are and clearly communicating that definition to your staff, students, and community. And it’s about creating excellence through the clarity of your mission and what you stand for. For these reasons, when undertaking a branding exercise or creating an identity package, it is important that stakeholders and user groups first define what a school’s program is about:
Ultimately, branding’s objective is to reinforce and remind the students and school community of their immediate and future goals.” 
Taking these definitions and expositions into consideration has been the core focus of the Students Life Cycle Management Program Training and Workshop conducted at Nature’s Village Resort, Talisay City last June 28 – 30, 2021.
In that gathering of the institution’s leaders and administrators, the discussion revolves around one important topic which is solidifying the NONESCOSTian identity by answering this question:
“What makes a NONESCOST viable graduate?”
The fruitful discussions resulted in the creation of the Student Life Cycle Management Program (SLCMP) Framework, which will soon become the blueprint the College will follow as it creates different activities and training for its students.
The SLCMP Framework is designed to ensure that each student receives a valuable experience because “...a Valuable experience is whAt uLtimately sUpports our studEnts’ eDucation (VALUE-D).” With this, NONESCOST is making sure that students achieve success in a way that also fulfills the institutional mission.
Hence, a stringent student life cycle management program is instituted to guide and to guard the transformational learning experience of NONESCOST students.
The institutional heads as participants during the 3-day SLCMP Training at Nature’s Village, Talisay.
“What is the purpose of a Student Life Cycle Framework (SLCF)? Why is it important?”
Many do not understand the practicality and importance of SLCF as a guidepost to base on when coming up with activities involving the students all throughout the year. So we highlight these words from our esteemed institutional heads as they expound what SLCF is truly about.
Back to the original topic of this article…
What makes a student a true NONESCOSTian?
The SLCF will be unveiled and rolled out very soon and every student-serving office in the College will be empowered and mandated to use the guide to enrich their services and activities for the year and in the coming years. But our journey doesn’t stop there…
As long as the College grows and develops, the SCLF will also be enriched to become more in-depth and encompassing, so much that it will touch on every detail of the student’s life from the moment they are admitted to the institution up until the time they are already employed. True this, it is expected that the "true NONESCOSTian identity" will be solidified.
Of course, having a conceptual framework is not enough. We also need inputs from outside factors like our community to get the complete picture of what a true-blooded NONESCOSTian really is all about.
That said, we decided to pool feedback from handpicked individuals by asking them the questions below:
“What are the characteristics of a true-blooded NONESCOSTian?”
Their answers, as much as it is interesting, is insightful. These will be, of course, included in the finalization and creation of the SLC Framework.
Here are some of their responses:
 Nageswaran, K. Strengthening School Identity, Spirit, and Community with an All in One Educational Platform. Schoolbox (www.schoolbox.com.au).
 Krueger, J. School Branding: The Impact on Identity and Engagement. HMC Architects (www.hmcarchitects.com)