For new students interested in paralegal studies, making a choice between community college and a big state university or private college can be a hard decision to some. There are pros and cons to both, and the cost is not the only factor – there’s also reputation, name recognition, employment support, and more.
Decisions on which school to attend with a career in paralegal work actually starts as early as the end of the first quarter of your last year of high school. Applications to colleges and universities are sent out right before the winter break begins. So knowing the differences between going to a local college compared to a top national paralegal college will help in preparing a student with what is expected of him/her and how college life can influence their lives.
Below is a short comparison or distinction between a paralegal degree at a local community college and a national college or university.
National Paralegal College vs Paralegal Programs Near Me
The Cost: Regardless of what kind of program you’re choosing, the tuition at a local college can be a fraction of the cost than that of a national paralegal college. The average cost for a community college is just $2000 per year, and even less at many schools. On the other hand, paralegal studies at a national college or university may cost as much as $15,000 per educational year – and that’s just the average for a top-notch public university, not an elite private institution.
When it comes to cost, then, paralegal programs near me win out. Choosing the local college to start your career education will save you money that can be delegated toward other costs, such as getting a state certification or continuing education.
Flexible Scheduling: If you’re a working adult, whether part-time or full time, making time to get to classes can be difficult. Many local colleges offer several classes of the same course at different times of the day or evening, and even weekends, but they’re still a set time in a set place. In addition, taking courses at your own pace is a huge benefit. On the other hand, with contemporary technology, more and more top national paralegal colleges are bringing their programs entirely online, creating a much more flexible option for students.
On convenience, then, it’s hard to beat a national paralegal college online program. The best of both worlds would be an online community college paralegal program, which are also becoming far more common.
Support Services: This is where community college paralegal programs near me can be a better choice than a national paralegal college. Having the option to sit face to face with counselors or advisors can truly help uplift a discouraged or struggling student. Moreover, classes in community college tend to have a much smaller student/teacher ratio compared to national colleges. Individualized attention and providing a nurturing environment can help paralegal degree students feel more welcomed.
For student support, go local. A national paralegal college may offer services similar to local colleges for students, but they’re larger and more anonymous.
Opportunities for employment: Another big gain for the community college is the job prospects offered to students as soon as they finish school. A local internship brings opportunities to stay on or at least apply for employment once the student graduates and passes the bar exam. An internship can also provide ways to get to know the staff and other members of the firm or company, as a way of building a network of associates. On the other hand, national colleges may provide a list of paralegal job opportunities in their designated area of interest, providing practical and handy information at your fingertips.
Course Material: Seeking approval by the American Bar Association (ABA) is optional for some institutions. The student should receive the same education at either a local or national college. It just depends on the student’s own choice of where to attend. However, many students start at community colleges for their 2-year degrees (Associate’s), and then go off to a national college for the 4-year or Bachelor’s degree.
What’s the Verdict?
So the question that remains is, should a student take a chance on the paralegal studies degree? For a prospective student entering in the paralegal field, the job outlook is very promising. Over the next decade, job growth expects to rise fifteen percent. According to the BLS, the median annual pay is $50,410. Of course, this could be higher for those who find employment in more established and renowned law firms. So if conducting research, gathering evidence, and drafting documents are for you, then a paralegal degree is right for you!