Paralegal Studies Through Distance Learning

Many traditional colleges and universities now have a variety of distance learning options in addition to their in-class offerings. However, there are also many reputable schools that deal exclusively with off-site education. If you are considering completing your paralegal studies through distance learning, it is a good idea to take a look at the options that are available and consider what will be the best choice for you.

Some of the reasons that you may be considering online or distance learning as opposed to attending classes in person is for the convenience in terms of time and also for the expense. Perhaps you live in a rural area and don’t have access to a physical school, or your local college does not offer the program you want. Maybe your schedule varies every week and it would be difficult, if not impossible, for you to attend regularly scheduled courses. Maybe you are responsible for childcare and will need to study from home so that you can continue with those duties. Whatever your reasons, now more than ever before, there are a wide variety of programs and options to chose from.

Because paralegal studies requirements vary from state to state, and in some cases are not regulated at all, it is imperative that you do sufficient research to ensure that the program that you take will fulfill any local requirements for getting into your chosen field. Contact the local state agency to see if you must obtain a license or particular credentials to be able to practice as a paralegal. Than, make sure that the program that you are considering fulfills these requirements. There would be nothing worse than making a significant investment of both time and money only to find out that you are unable to legally work.

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Is the school or program you are looking at accredited? Online programs can be great, but be sure that the one that you sign up for is reputable and legitimate, no one wants to fall for a scam. If a program sounds too good to be true, chances are, there is something not quite right. There are many ways to verify a school’s credentials. Doing some online research and making some phone calls might save you invaluable time, energy and money later on.

Another consideration is the actual curriculum of the program. An accredited and reputable school will be happy to provide you with information regarding the requirements needed to earn a degree or certificate. Do these courses provide the information you need to work in this challenging and exciting field? If you are interested in specializing in a particular area, does the school offer courses in your area of study? Feel free to contact an admissions counselor or request a course catalog to answer your questions.

While most of us wish things were different, financial considerations are another factor to take into account when considering your paralegal studies program. Not only do you need to look at the overall tuition, but also, how long the program lasts. What will be the total cost to earn your degree or certificate? How much are the additional costs, such as textbooks? Are there scholarships, grants or financial aid available? How often is tuition due? Some schools require you to pay for an entire quarter or semester upfront, making a lump sum due all at once. Other schools allow you to spread out the payments into monthly chunks. If this is easier for you, that might be a better option.

Finally, take a look at the classes themselves. What is the structure of the distance learning course? How do you interact with the instructor and with the other students? Are there videos to watch? Readings? Questions to answer? How long is the course and how much work are you responsible for each week? What are the tests like? Is there a final project or a large paper due at the end? How will you get feedback from the instructor? Are they accessible via email? Do they have office hours if you need to contact them by phone? Many schools can give you an estimate of how much time you will need to invest each week to do well in the course. Make sure you are able to take on this commitment before you sign up.

Distance learning can be a convenient, flexible and less expensive way to complete your paralegal studies. By doing research up front, you can make sure that the program you select is right for you. You want an accredited school that offers the courses you desire at a price that you can afford. With a little hard work and determination, you will find just the right program and be well on your way to becoming a paralegal!

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