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Learning About WISR

Deliberate Reflection and Dialogue: Is WISR right for you?—the pros and cons . . .

Beyond the in-depth conversation(s) with WISR’s Chief Academic Officer or WISR’s President, each prospective student is encouraged to ask how they can get in touch with any students, faculty or alumni, with whom they would like to gain several perspectives on study at WISR and a sense of the learning community that they may be joining. Prospective students should also, if they can, make arrangements to participate in one or more seminars, which are available both on site and by video conference.

All prospective students should understand that WISR’s degree is unaccredited but State licensed, and that this results in risks for some prospective students but not others.  For this reason, we alert all prospective students to the strengths and limitations of WISR’s State approved* degree. Over the decades, our students have been very, very successful in using their WISR degrees for employment in non-profit agencies and also in setting up their own consulting practices, and in many cases, also in pursuing occasional grants and outside funding.

We caution prospective students that in many cases, public agencies (Federal, State, and local) are not interested in receiving applications from people who hold unaccredited degrees. In most cases, those hiring for these agencies are not aware that California State Approval* even exists, and they are not motivated to take the time to hear explanations from prospective employees about the solidity of State approved degrees. Still, some of our graduates have been hired by public agencies. Nevertheless, we want all prospective students to know that in this area of employment, having a State licensed degree is likely to be a liability in many cases, at least.

Furthermore, in terms of doing more advanced graduate study in the future at an accredited institution, or in seeking a faculty position at an accredited college or university, there is definitely some risk, although in our experience, some of our alumni have been admitted to accredited graduate schools, and more than a few have been employed as faculty in accredited institutions. Most of our alumni so employed have held part-time positions, many of them in community colleges. Several of our PhD alumni have obtained full-time, tenure track positions in accredited universities. Other things being equal, our alumni are at a disadvantage when applying for graduate study or faculty positions in a traditional, accredited institution, partly just because “WISR” doesn’t have “big name recognition.” In our experience a lot depends on the particular attitudes of the particular faculty making decisions in a particular department, in a particular institution during a particular year. It is hard to generalize, but clearly a WISR alumnus is likely to be at a disadvantage unless he or she is being evaluated by a fairly progressive group of faculty.

One of WISR’s MS programs is approved to meet the academic requirement for the California MFT license, as well as for the new LPCC license, and for these purposes, it has equal status with accredited degrees. Over the years, our MFT alumni have performed exceedingly well on the State MFT licensing exams, and they have usually been very successful in their professional practices. Nevertheless, those prospective students contemplating moving out of State should learn about the reciprocity laws and arrangements with California. Generally speaking, those who are interested in practicing as a counselor in another state will find that their odds of being able to do so increases dramatically if they first get the California license and then move, rather than trying to use their WISR Master’s degree in another state without first getting the California license. Nevertheless, a bit over 10 years ago, one of our alumni obtained her Colorado, and then her Arizona, license without first obtaining the California license. We do not know whether or not this would still be the case.

WISR students William Poehner and Alex Martinez at Annual Conference

WISR students William Poehner and Alex Martinez at Annual Conference

To a large extent, WISR’s history is indeed the stories of our students successfully building bridges to the significant things they next want to do in their lives, whether it is a new career, a new job, improved performance on an existing job, or volunteer community work. Our alumni have used their academic projects at WISR to network with professionals and community groups, to create new programs and even new agencies, to carve out distinctive and well-recognized specializations and consulting practices, and to engage in professional and community leadership  with significant and meaningful responsibilities. In sum, our alumni have generally been very, very satisfied with how well they have been able to use the combination of their WISR learning and their WISR State licensed degree to accomplish their goals, and indeed, to do more than they even aimed to do when they first enrolled at WISR. Please contact WISR faculty if you would like to discuss with our alumni their successes and accomplishments and their thoughts about the contributions of learning at WISR.  A large number of WISR alumni have volunteered to talk with prospective students!

For now, WISR continues to build on its 40 year-plus history of showing how learning can take center stage, and to show that many WISR students use relevant, high quality learning. Our students find that they can design and pursue learning activities, and earn a State licensed degree from WISR–in order to build bridges for themselves–-to pursue quite successfully the next significant life-endeavors and challenges they have chosen and planned for themselves.

To learn more about WISR, we urge prospective students to explore our website. In particular, prospective students should read the extensive and detailed information in the various subsections under the main heading, “Academics.”

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