In the state of Oklahoma, there are four higher learning institutions that can be appropriately termed as “paralegal schools.” What we mean by this distinction is that they are both fully accredited and approved by the American Bar Association. Programs that do not meet these criteria are not considered legitimate and any degrees or certificates earned from them are not valid and will essentially be of no use to you in the field.
If you, however, are thinking of attending one of the legitimate schools, you may be wondering what to expect. The truth is, though, every program and school is different.
East Central University, which is located in Ada, is one of your choices. It offers a bachelor’s degree program in the field. While an associate’s degree is sufficient to work as a paralegal, the school advocates for taking your education to the next level, and rightfully so. Paralegals who have higher level degrees tend to earn more money and to have an easier time finding employment.
The school is very focused on future employment and on teaching students the skills they will need to actually work as paralegals. It also tends to have a laid back and relaxed atmosphere among the student body, but this isn’t to say that the students don’t work hard.
Another option in the state is Rose State College, which is located in Midwest City. This school is on the smaller side, giving it an intimate feel. Students enjoy individualized attention from their professors, and most classes are limited in the number of students they have. The school offers an associate’s degree program, which most students will complete in around two years.
The majority of the students are older adults and working professionals, so a lot of the classes here are offered in the evenings. This isn’t really the kind of college you choose if you are looking for the traditional college experience or for a very active social scene. It is an all-business institution, where people are there to do their work and to earn their degree, often in as little time as possible.
Then, you have the University of Oklahoma Law Center, located in Norman. This is another serious school, perhaps even more so than Rose State College. It benefits greatly from its location in a large and in-charge city where paralegals are in high demand. Students tend to have access to excellent internship and other experiential learning opportunities, and most graduates will find work in the field very soon after graduation.
The school offers only a certification program, with all courses taught by lawyers and/or legal assistants. Classes are a mixture of the traditional lecture style, independent study, and writing. Keep in mind that most of the students here will be older students who have already pursued a degree in an unrelated field or students who are experienced in college coursework.
As with Rose State College, most aren’t looking to make friends and go through the whole college experience; they are there to get their work done.
Finally, you have the University of Tulsa, which is, of course, located in Tulsa. This is another powerful city and an excellent place to be for prospective and fresh out of school paralegals. Like the University of Oklahoma Law Center, the school only offers certification, so you’ll generally find an older student body. The program will take most students anywhere from six months to a year to complete, depending upon the coursework that they take on.
Remember, too, that these are not your only choices for an education. If you are looking for schooling that can be done more on your terms, such as on your own schedule, then you might want to consider an online school. Though these institutions often get a bad reputation, there are actually a lot of excellent ones out there.
It’s up to you, however, to do your research and to sort out the good, legitimate schools from the scams. If you can do this, then you can find a flexible, enjoyable learning opportunity that will help you to balance your quest for an education with other demands on your time.