Paralegal Schools & Accreditations – Be on Guard

Regional verses National College Accreditation for Paralegal Schools

accreditedSo you’re considering a degree in paralegal studies to further your education. You would like to be responsible with your money so you are searching all options regarding paralegal schools, universities and online schools. Surprisingly, a larger number of people wanting to further their education don’t do a lot of research and end up with a “degree” or diploma that is not worth the paper they are printed on.

This is where accreditation comes in; there is a difference in the types of accreditations available. Some online schools and colleges are not legitimate when it comes to accreditation. If you have any intention of changing schools or furthering your education in the future then you will need to understand the differences in accreditations.

So let’s start at the beginning. There are National, Regional and Distance accreditations given to institutions and colleges. All of the accreditations can give you a quality degree but not all are interchangeable as far as transferring credits. This is probably one of the biggest hurdles students looking at paralegal degrees have to overcome.

First you must look long term, do you think you might further your education in the future? Is your personality such that you get bored or you get an itch to do something different? Are you the type of person who will be content with the same type of job year after year? The reason for the questions is that if you choose a degree that is accredited nationally and work in the paralegal field for a number of years but then decide you want to go further in your studies and go for something in the law field or get a higher degree in the paralegal field you need to understand the differences in accreditations.

Why do I need a school that is accredited?

Without accreditation any coursework you do while at that institution may not be recognized by future employers and other colleges. If you will need financial aid in continuing your education you will not be able to receive it unless the school is accredited. Also accreditation establishes a certain quality of standards in education given at colleges and universities. If you are going to be putting out money for an education wouldn’t you want it to be of value to you once you are ready to enter the work force?

What does it take to for a school to become accredited?

Schools that are interested in being accredited must contact an accrediting agency to understand the standards they are looking for in an educational institution. They receive information on what is required for them to become accredited. Then if any changes need to be made to the curriculum, facility, staff, student services and even organizational structure to comply with the standards set forth they must implement them. Once the school feels it is compliant then they contact the accrediting agency to evaluate their institution. If accepted the accrediting agency will continue to evaluate the school to make sure the standards are continuing to be met.

Beware of false claims from some schools

There are schools that claim to be accredited but they are not accredited by recognized agencies. You should investigate any paralegal school or online college that claims accreditation to verify their claim. Here are some things to watch out for when seeking a diploma from a school that claims to have accreditation:

• A degree can be earned in a relatively short period of time. Instead of two years you can have a degree within a few months.
• Using “life experience’ or a resume for credits.
• Fees are charged for degree rather than credit hour, or course.
• Very little interaction with a professor, hardly any assignments and no requirements for attendance.
• Names that are “like” a university
• Using a P.O. Box or suite for an address.
• Graduation requirements are minimal
• Little or no information about staff and their qualifications

A quality education will last a lifetime and if you choose the right accredited institution you will be able to further your education anywhere!