Apr 16, 2012
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I want to be a marriage and family counselor in California. I am currently a public high school math teacher. I have a single subject California Teaching Credential in math. I am considering enrolling in a master's degree in counseling on-campus program at the University of Phoenix. This would cost about $40K all told. I can afford it but would prefer to do it more cheaply. I would prefer an on Campus program vs. online. I live in the Sacramento area. CSU Sacramento has a counseling program in their education program that is impacted. Any advice? What is the best way to go about this? Can I get a degree in psychology instead and still get a license? Are there any other programs I should consider besides the LMFT?
 

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I am considering enrolling in a master's degree in counseling on-campus program at the University of Phoenix.

Any advice?

Yes...do not attend the University of Phoenix. Find a local university where you can take night/part-time classes. Make sure the program is acred. and you can get licensed not only in your home state, but also in every other state.
 

Qwerk

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I agree. It's difficult to get a job in the counseling professions at all, and having a degree from an ill-esteemed online college will probably not raise your current salary very much, if at all. Also, 40k seems ridiculous. You'll pay nowhere near that at a state school.
 
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I agree - don't get a counseling or mft degree from UofPhoenix... I am not a fan of online counseling programs, but CACREP does approve a few for MFT and a few more for LPC/CMHC - go to their site and select Masters Level and Online and you will see that there are a few for profit online schools that have been accredited for awhile for CMHC and one one for profit online school that has been accredited by CACREP recently for MFT.

Interestingly - when I looked at COAMFTE website there were very few state schools in CA - maybe only one? that are accredited for the MFT - all the others approved by COAMFTE are private.

Makes me wonder about why so few are accredited since CA is the one state that held out on licensing LPCs until just recently, and they have always had such an identity as producing MFTs - why are so few schools COAMFTE approved?

Any CA therapists here who can answer that?

I was a midlife career switcher and there was a pay cut, but a huge increase in job satisfaction.

Best of luck on your journey!



Talk to MFTs in your area who are doing the job you imagine having and are RECENT graduates - the field has changed a lot recently! and see where they went to school and what their experience was like.
 
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Psychadelic2012

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Interestingly - when I looked at COAMFTE website there were very few state schools in CA - maybe only one? that are accredited for the MFT - all the others approved by COAMFTE are private.

Makes me wonder about why so few are accredited since CA is the one state that held out on licensing LPCs until just recently, and they have always had such an identity as producing MFTs - why are so few schools COAMFTE approved?

Any CA therapists here who can answer that?

It likely doesn't matter if the program is COAMFTE (or CACREP) accredited for licensure. I've looked into the CA laws for LPC licensure, and they don't require it for that particular license.
 
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It likely doesn't matter if the program is COAMFTE (or CACREP) accredited for licensure. I've looked into the CA laws for LPC licensure, and they don't require it for that particular license.

If the OP only wants to work in CA accreditation of the program may be moot. Unfortunately (fortunately?) it matters somewhat for licensure portability for the LPC. It is very difficult in many states to get the LPC without graduating from a CACREP program. Again moot if the OP is going for the MFT. Some states make it easier to get licensed if MFTs graduate from a COAMFTE accredited program.

Also the VA will only hire LPCs from CACREP programs. I don't know if they require their MFTs to come from accredited programs. Again moot if the OP doesn't want to take Tricare or work for the VA.
 
Apr 16, 2012
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Thank you so much for all the replies. I have got a lot of learning to do about acronyms I can see. I have been teaching for 17 years and know I don't want to do it forever. I have seen a lot of counselors over the years and have been disappointed with the quality of the care and believe that I could do a better job.

The UOP program is not online. It meets entirely in the classroom. Although I don't plan to ever live outside of California I suppose portability would be a nice bonus. Is there any other types of counseling I should consider besides the LMFT? I plan to go into private practice. Maybe try to pick up some affiliations with some HMO's or something but mainly market myself.
 
Apr 16, 2012
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Also I'm kind of getting the hard sell from UOP. The guy tells me that I need to enroll today because the fees are about to go up and they are changing the program from 2 1/2 years to 3 years.
 
Oct 18, 2010
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Thank you so much for all the replies. I have got a lot of learning to do about acronyms I can see. I have been teaching for 17 years and know I don't want to do it forever. I have seen a lot of counselors over the years and have been disappointed with the quality of the care and believe that I could do a better job.

The UOP program is not online. It meets entirely in the classroom. Although I don't plan to ever live outside of California I suppose portability would be a nice bonus. Is there any other types of counseling I should consider besides the LMFT? I plan to go into private practice. Maybe try to pick up some affiliations with some HMO's or something but mainly market myself.

Honestly, I think you'd benefit from dedicating some time to searching and reading the forums here. On the masters forum in particular, these same questions get asked repeatedly, so you'll likely find good, relevant info.

That said, I'm in CA. Until recently, there have been two main masters level licenses: LCSW (need MSW = social work masters) and MFT, with which you're already familiar. CA just recently adopted the LPC (licensed professional counselor). You can look up the various licensing requirements here:
http://www.bbs.ca.gov/

From what I've read, the only places where online education flies for therapists is in rural areas where everyone is working at the same one or two community organizations and everyone got their degrees from the same online school. Otherwise it's a huge disadvantage and shouldn't be considered.

University of Phoenix, online or in person, is not well-regarded and will put you at a disadvantage relative to job applicants with better pedigrees. I don't want to endorse Alliant, but I'd go there for a masters before I'd go to UoP (and there's an Alliant MFT program in Sacramento).

I'd start with the license you want, then work backwards. Make sure that the program you select will make you eligible for the license you want. It would be awful to earn (and pay for) a degree which didn't prepare you for licensure.
 
Jan 20, 2012
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Also I'm kind of getting the hard sell from UOP. The guy tells me that I need to enroll today because the fees are about to go up and they are changing the program from 2 1/2 years to 3 years.

Reminds me of when I was looking for a used car and the guy said "Well, we have someone else looking at this car and they are going to buy it today." I declined to buy the car. It sat on the lot for 5 more months.
 
Oct 18, 2010
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Although I don't plan to ever live outside of California I suppose portability would be a nice bonus.

From what I've read, the CA MSW--> LCSW path is the most portable in terms of leaving the state. The conventional, generic wisdom about masters licensing in CA is to get the MSW, partly for that reason. People trumpet it from the hillsides, as though everyone in CA were suffocating on tofu and couldn't wait to escape and bury ourselves in snowdrifts. :rolleyes:
 

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Also I'm kind of getting the hard sell from UOP. The guy tells me that I need to enroll today because the fees are about to go up and they are changing the program from 2 1/2 years to 3 years.

That is a HUGE red flag.

The UoP does not have a good reputation in the field, at all. You really would be remiss if you didn't consider the view of the program you are considering because once you invest your $40k and hard work....you still need to get a job.
 
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Qwerk

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UoP is known for its high-pressure tactics, which are unfortunately a common feature of this type of institution. I would not recommend attending any for-profit college. Employers know that their programs are not selective and not taught at the graduate level, regardless of whether the classes are online or in person.

Can I ask why you're considering UoP at all? There are plenty of fine schools in California. The only appeal of UoP is that they admit anyone with a checkbook. Otherwise, it's like paying a Rolls-Royce price for a Honda Civic.
 
Apr 16, 2012
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You make some good points. Thank you for all the advice and I hope I don't sound disagreeable. One thing I'd like to point out is that I am not going to go online. I want a classroom setting.

Another thing is that I plan to go into private practice straightaway. This will be a part time gig for me as I ease into retirement from my teaching job. Would it matter that much to prospective patients where I got my degree? I've seen 10 or more counselors and have never asked where they were educated.

In fact, one of the reasons I plan to enter this field is because I've seen so many bad counselors and I think I could do a better job.

CSU Sacramento is impacted and I couldn't start there until fall 2013, if I can even get in. I got my teaching credential from for profit National University and my employer never batted an eye. But these are two different fields, of course, and my BS was from a CSU which is more important. What types of jobs are you speaking of that will be hard to get with a degree from UOP?
 
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Another thing is that I plan to go into private practice straightaway. This will be a part time gig for me as I ease into retirement from my teaching job. Would it matter that much to prospective patients where I got my degree? I've seen 10 or more counselors and have never asked where they were educated.

You raise some good points - and you don't sound disagreeable - just practical. I am not practicing in CA, but I am a career switcher, and I did go straight into private practice after lengthy pre-Masters practica and internship experiences and a lifetime of experience in the business world. It can be done.

For me - the proof is in the pudding - ask this high pressure salesman to give you the names of several students who have successfully completed the program and are now licensed and practicing in private practice. Contact them and see what they have to say about their experience with UoP. How easy it was to complete their pre-licensure hours? What was the licensing experience like for them?

If it sounds do-able to you - go for it... or wait for the CSU cohort to open in 2013 and use the time in between to do some self study, network, get a part-time summer gig working with MFTs etc. There are lots of pathways into this work and career switchers bring a richness to this profession.

In my state - in my CMHC/LPC residency - in private practice - I practice under supervision and cannot practice autonomously. I am not sure how that works with MFTs in CA - but send me a PM and I can give you a contact person who is an MFT in CA who was super helpful to me during my internship to residency transition.
 
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You make some good points. Thank you for all the advice and I hope I don't sound disagreeable. One thing I'd like to point out is that I am not going to go online. I want a classroom setting.



Keep in mind that you'll also need to accrue hours over a period of not less than 2 years in order to sit for the license. You'll be competing for practicum/internship spots against people from better programs. Reputation of program will come into play here.
 
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Once again thank you for the input. I went to an orientation at Phoenix last night and was not impressed. The faculty, who appeared to be fairly recent graduates of the program, did not strike me as being professional or very smart for that matter. Then I visited National University, my alma mater for my teaching credential. It seems like a little bit of a step up. I realized this when I went there for the credential that you are more or less purchasing a degree. I'm going to give CSU Sacramento, my other alma mater, another look.

One thing that became clear after last night is that colleges now appear to be adopting the LPCC format vs MFT. The guy at Phoenix wanted to rush me into the last opportunity to get the MFT before the newer, lengthier and more costly LPCC program comes on line. If I take the shorter MFT program would I be able to sit for the LPCC exam?

Another question: To get your PE (professional engineer's license) you can sit for the exam no matter what your educational background. But that is not the case for a counseling license, is it? Isn't graduation from an approved program a prerequisite for sitting for the exam?
 
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It used to be that in my state you could get a license for the LPC with 48 credits. It is now 60 credits and has been for many years.

Go look at the state licensing requirements in CA - but I don't know of any state that allows you to sit for the LPC license until you have graduated from an approved counseling program and completed your post masters residency hours (some states call those intern hours).

That said - states vary in their licensing rigor - some only require a book knowledge exam - the NCE and some require a clinical exam the NCMHCE.

In my experience, this isn't a degree that can be purchased (I know what you mean about the teaching credential though - so I think I get what you are saying). I have other graduate degrees - but the CMHC diploma is the only one I would frame :)

I did find this info on the ACA site. This may be what UoP is referring to:

California Licensure
*Beginning February 2011, the California Board of Behavioral Sciences will start accepting applications for grandparenting, reciprocity, and LPCC Interns. The grandparenting period will end June 30, 2011.

*January 1, 2012, the California Board of Behavioral Sciences will start accepting applications for regular licensure.

Educational Requirements

*California, beginning August 1, 2012, will require 60 semester hours (up from 48 semester hours) for those who begin graduate study after August 1, 2012, or who begin study before 2012 and do not complete it before 2018.
 
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If I take the shorter MFT program would I be able to sit for the LPCC exam?

Another question: To get your PE (professional engineer's license) you can sit for the exam no matter what your educational background. But that is not the case for a counseling license, is it? Isn't graduation from an approved program a prerequisite for sitting for the exam?

This is the kind of information you can find at the link I posted above, at the CA Board of Behavioral Sciences website.
 
Apr 15, 2013
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Once again thank you for the input. I went to an orientation at Phoenix last night and was not impressed. The faculty, who appeared to be fairly recent graduates of the program, did not strike me as being professional or very smart for that matter. Then I visited National University, my alma mater for my teaching credential. It seems like a little bit of a step up. I realized this when I went there for the credential that you are more or less purchasing a degree. I'm going to give CSU Sacramento, my other alma mater, another look.

One thing that became clear after last night is that colleges now appear to be adopting the LPCC format vs MFT. The guy at Phoenix wanted to rush me into the last opportunity to get the MFT before the newer, lengthier and more costly LPCC program comes on line. If I take the shorter MFT program would I be able to sit for the LPCC exam?

Another question: To get your PE (professional engineer's license) you can sit for the exam no matter what your educational background. But that is not the case for a counseling license, is it? Isn't graduation from an approved program a prerequisite for sitting for the exam?


HI,

IVE BEEN VIEWING THESE FORUMS ABOUT FEEDBACK AS TO UOP'S COUNSELING PROGRAM AND I THOUGHT TO OFFER MY OPINION - I AM AN ADADEMIC WITH A PHD FROM USC, AND ALSO A DEGREE FROM UC BERKELEY. I AM NOW AT UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX DOING MY COUNSELING DEGREE AND HONESTLY, I THINK ITS FINE. THE PROFESSORS ARE ALL CERITIFED MFT'S IN THE PROGRAM (i am here in Nevada), AND THE BOOKS ARE ALL EXCELLENT - I THINK ITS GREAT IF YOU ARE A FULL TIME WORKING PERSON AND WANT TO SWITCH CAREERS MID-LIFE. YOU JUST NEED TO KNOW THAT YOU MAY NOT GET EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO PASS THE LICENSING EXAM, ONLY BECAUSE THE PROGRAM MOVES AT A FAST PACE ---BUT IF YOU STUDY FROM THE STUDY MATERIALS FOR THE EXAM - THE UOP PREPARATION IS FINE. THE CONVENIENCE FACTOR IS IMPORTANT. I FOUND UOP TO BE GREAT-- IT IS NOT ONLINE- YOU MUST ATTEND THE CLASSES, AND THEN YOU WILL HAVE AN EIGHT MONTH INTERSHIP BEFORE SITTING FOR THE ASSOCIATE THERPAIST EXAM. SOME OF MY FELLOW STUDENTS ARE DEFINATELY NOT ACADEMIC MATERIAL SO MY BIGGEST COMPLAINT WOULD BE THAT THEY LET IN STUDENTS WHO SHOULDNT BE THERE - BUT OTHERWISE IF YOU ARE SMART, DEDICATED AND CAN PASS THE EXAM - IN PSYCHOTHERAPY THE REST IS UP TO YOU REGARDLESS OF WHICH SCHOOL YOU ATTENED.... GOOD LUCK! ps - THE GUY THAT WANTED TO PUSH YOU TO ENTER, WHILE THAT IS NOT THE RIGHT TACTIC, HE WAS RIGHT AND THEY HAVE RECENTED ENHANCED THEIR PROGRAM SO IT IS LONGER, BUT BETTER.
 
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HI,

IVE BEEN VIEWING THESE FORUMS ABOUT FEEDBACK AS TO UOP'S COUNSELING PROGRAM AND I THOUGHT TO OFFER MY OPINION - I AM AN ADADEMIC WITH A PHD FROM USC, AND ALSO A DEGREE FROM UC BERKELEY. I AM NOW AT UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX DOING MY COUNSELING DEGREE AND HONESTLY, I THINK ITS FINE. THE PROFESSORS ARE ALL CERITIFED MFT'S IN THE PROGRAM (i am here in Nevada), AND THE BOOKS ARE ALL EXCELLENT - I THINK ITS GREAT IF YOU ARE A FULL TIME WORKING PERSON AND WANT TO SWITCH CAREERS MID-LIFE. YOU JUST NEED TO KNOW THAT YOU MAY NOT GET EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO PASS THE LICENSING EXAM, ONLY BECAUSE THE PROGRAM MOVES AT A FAST PACE ---BUT IF YOU STUDY FROM THE STUDY MATERIALS FOR THE EXAM - THE UOP PREPARATION IS FINE. THE CONVENIENCE FACTOR IS IMPORTANT. I FOUND UOP TO BE GREAT-- IT IS NOT ONLINE- YOU MUST ATTEND THE CLASSES, AND THEN YOU WILL HAVE AN EIGHT MONTH INTERSHIP BEFORE SITTING FOR THE ASSOCIATE THERPAIST EXAM. SOME OF MY FELLOW STUDENTS ARE DEFINATELY NOT ACADEMIC MATERIAL SO MY BIGGEST COMPLAINT WOULD BE THAT THEY LET IN STUDENTS WHO SHOULDNT BE THERE - BUT OTHERWISE IF YOU ARE SMART, DEDICATED AND CAN PASS THE EXAM - IN PSYCHOTHERAPY THE REST IS UP TO YOU REGARDLESS OF WHICH SCHOOL YOU ATTENED.... GOOD LUCK! ps - THE GUY THAT WANTED TO PUSH YOU TO ENTER, WHILE THAT IS NOT THE RIGHT TACTIC, HE WAS RIGHT AND THEY HAVE RECENTED ENHANCED THEIR PROGRAM SO IT IS LONGER, BUT BETTER.

They missed the part of training where you hit the button above the control key before the beginning of sentence and then release it until the beginning of the next sentence.
 
Nov 21, 2012
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I am on the clinical psychology side, but I know several folks who graduated with an MFT in CA. They all echoed that it is incredibly hard to get a PAID job with an MFT after you graduate out here. A common path is to work for 2+ years in an unpaid role to accrue those 3,000 hours (which can take significantly longer than 2 years; 1 gal is still accruing 5 years out). Another MFT is working as a Nanny for pay while she accrues those hours in an unpaid role. Obviously this is not a good investment.
 
Mar 28, 2013
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I was training for an MFT and just started up again. Now they have the PCC and it looks like a much better fit. The scope of practice is different and considered broader. The training is slightly different. For instance, psychopharmacology is required, among other things. The way you do your hours is different as well.

So I think the answer to the question about whether you can sit for either exam would be no, unless you take the whole curriculum and want both licenses, which is possible.
 
Oct 18, 2010
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I was training for an MFT and just started up again. Now they have the PCC and it looks like a much better fit. The scope of practice is different and considered broader. The training is slightly different. For instance, psychopharmacology is required, among other things. The way you do your hours is different as well.

So I think the answer to the question about whether you can sit for either exam would be no, unless you take the whole curriculum and want both licenses, which is possible.

Some programs in SoCal are marketing themselves as preparing students for both licenses. Keep in mind education is a business--added classes to fulfill additional requirements = more $.
 

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Some programs in SoCal are marketing themselves as preparing students for both licenses. Keep in mind education is a business--added classes to fulfill additional requirements = more $.

Yep. I looked into what it would take to be licensed as an LPCC after I relocate just for sh*ts & giggles. There are 2 classes that I would need to take in addition to some CEUs for the other crap. The 2 classes alone would cost me ~$3500 (and that psychopharm class, in addition to many of the others, can be either undergrad/grad-level, so I personally don't think they're giving you that damned much....).
 
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Well, the scope of practice for an LPCC is different, a bit broader. It is for individuals and groups as well. MFTs do that I guess but it's not what the license is designed to cover. Plus there assessment training and school counseling as well career counseling, perhaps not what everyone wants to do but it opens up opportunities that an MFT does not.
 

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Well, the scope of practice for an LPCC is different, a bit broader. It is for individuals and groups as well. MFTs do that I guess but it's not what the license is designed to cover. Plus there assessment training and school counseling as well career counseling, perhaps not what everyone wants to do but it opens up opportunities that an MFT does not.

From what I understand, you're only allowed to do groups if you have ADDITIONAL training into the minimums required for licensure; otherwise, you're restricted from groups/couples/family therapy.

I can tell you by looking at the requirements for the LPCC, it's NOT going to prepare you adequately to do "true" assessment.
 
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Hi Carwhisper,

Curious to know if you did in fact start your program. I am in the Sacramento area and have been researching information regarding the CSUS program which is currently impacted. I have also been researching the UOP, and National program and might be steering towards Alliant University. Was curious to know if you started one of the programs or are still looking?
 

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Hi Carwhisper,

Curious to know if you did in fact start your program. I am in the Sacramento area and have been researching information regarding the CSUS program which is currently impacted. I have also been researching the UOP, and National program and might be steering towards Alliant University. Was curious to know if you started one of the programs or are still looking?

I know this is an old thread, but as a former academic advisor/dude who sat on admissions committees/dude who hired people with degrees, I would caution anyone that it's best to avoid schools like UoP and Alliant for professional education.

They're both regionally accredited, and at least Alliant is accredited by CAMFT, but you're going to pay through the nose for a degree and you will have a phenomenally difficult time competing for internship spots in those programs.

You would be better off doing almost anything else with the money you spend on a UoP or Alliant degree; they don't have the reputation or, frankly, the rigor of other graduate programs that will lead to you being chosen for a spot.
 
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Thank you so much for all the replies. I have got a lot of learning to do about acronyms I can see. I have been teaching for 17 years and know I don't want to do it forever. I have seen a lot of counselors over the years and have been disappointed with the quality of the care and believe that I could do a better job.

The UOP program is not online. It meets entirely in the classroom. Although I don't plan to ever live outside of California I suppose portability would be a nice bonus. Is there any other types of counseling I should consider besides the LMFT? I plan to go into private practice. Maybe try to pick up some affiliations with some HMO's or something but mainly market myself.
I agree. It's difficult to get a job in the counseling professions at all, and having a degree from an ill-esteemed online college will probably not raise your current salary very much, if at all. Also, 40k seems ridiculous. You'll pay nowhere near that at a state school.
University of Phoenix is a great option for those who only have the time to attend classes one night a week, and are self motivated to learn beyond what is taught. If you are a good student, motivated and just want the degree, its a good choice. In the end you will take the MFT state exam and once you are licensed no one really cares where you went to school. You must work towards your license. I have degrees from the top universities and I went to UOP for a license degree- and it was fine.
 
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