West Virginia is not a state that is known for having a ton of educational options and, true to its form, it doesn’t offer a wide selection of programs for those hoping to become paralegals. This isn’t entirely the state’s fault, however.
It is largely due to the fact that paralegal programs must be subject to extensive rules and regulations in order to be considered valid and for the degrees and/or certificates they grant to be legitimate and usable in the field. Not only do they have to be accredited, but they also must be approved by the American Bar Association, which upholds the strictest of standards.
Actually, only one school within the state meets both pieces of this criteria, and obviously, that is the top choices for all aspiring paralegals. That school is Mountwest Community and Technical College, which is located in Huntington. One thing that the school definitely has going for it is the fact that it is so very affordable, even more affordable than just your general state college. It offers an associate’s degree program in the field, which takes about two years to complete, on average.
However, not everyone will want to receive just your basic associate’s degree. Some people will want to earn a bachelor’s degree, which takes about four years to complete, but which has untold benefits. Some of these benefits include the capability for better professions in the field, higher salaries from the start, and many others.
Then, there are also certification programs, which are ideal for anyone who already has a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated area and who doesn’t want to start his or her education over from scratch. They are also viable options for students who received their degrees from programs that were not approved by the American Bar Association.
If you are interested in a bachelor’s degree program or a certification program, then your best option, as a West Virginia resident, is to choose online schooling. Though online schooling often gets an unfairly bad reputation, it actually has many benefits. Online programs are much more flexible in terms of scheduling, often allowing students to work at their own pace.
Furthermore, they are, like community colleges, much more affordable than traditional schooling options. This doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t a lot of scams out there, so you’ll need to be very careful and selective as you choose a school. Make sure you never believe anything an online school tells you at face value; always research it for yourself.
If you absolutely don’t think online schooling will work for you, then you might consider attending school in a nearby state. Just be aware that doing so will cost you a great deal more, due to the doubled cost of out of state tuition. You can, though, live in a state for a year or so and usually obtain residency, which is something to think about. Or, you can just earn a degree from an unapproved program and supplement it later with an approved certification program.