Deciding between getting your paralegal certificate online or at a local school can be a little difficult. There are benefits and drawbacks to both approaches, so read on to find out what they are.

For your education as a paralegal, you have options, and two of the most popular ones are enrolling in a college campus near you or taking classes online. There’s always been a bit of a debate about which route is better and how they compare, although both result in you receiving education and some type of certification as a paralegal.

The truth is that each approach has its own set of pros and cons, so the right option for you likely depends on your personal circumstances. Check out the benefits and drawbacks of each type of schooling shown below.

National Paralegal College

  • Offers bachelor’s and associates degrees
  • May offer certificate programs
  • Social interaction and people skills development
  • Personal connection to professors
  • Tangible student benefits, such as events and gym access
  • Fewer distractions
  • Instant credibility

While the benefits of a traditional school can’t be denied, there are certainly some significant drawbacks. A traditional college is quite expensive, both financially and in terms of the time you spend commuting and trying to find parking. It’s also not very flexible at all, and you will essentially have to plan your work and personal life around your school schedule. This can become very difficult if you work or have children.

Paralegal Certificate OnlineIs getting an online paralegal certificate better than going to a national paralegal college?

  • Offers certificates
  • Receive certificate in less than 15 weeks
  • Can be done anywhere
  • No time wasted on commute
  • Fast access to professors
  • Get grades immediately
  • Incredible flexibility

As with traditional schooling, the benefits of an online certificate program can’t be denied. You can take your classes anywhere and make your course schedule work around your personal one. The drawbacks here vary depending on the program. Some programs don’t have the instant credibility that traditional schools have, and other programs are actually more expensive than the traditional school route. Researching programs before signing up in terms of cost, education quality and other features can help minimize these potential disadvantages.

One of the biggest issues with online programs is that they are not for every type of learner. Should you decide to go with the greater flexibility that online paralegal programs offer, be prepared to follow the dos and don’ts of online learning below to help ensure your success.

  • Do get familiar with your online school’s technology. Log in as soon as you receive access, and get comfortable with all the features before you take your first class. Order your textbooks as soon as you can so you’re prepared from day one.
  • Do prepare to follow your schedule. Mark your classes’ days and times on all your calendars, including your phone, and set reminders if you need them. Do the same for all your assignments, projects and anything else that is time-sensitive. Time management is absolutely vital to your success in an online learning environment.
  • Don’t get into the mindset that your online classes aren’t “real” school. You are receiving the same education as a student in a traditional school, and you are being held to the same standards.
  • Don’t leave everything until the last minute. Internet goes down and computers fail, so get your work submitted early.

With an online program, your success is largely in your hands, so be prepared to do the work necessary for your success.