What are your options if you choose a paralegal program because you’re assured your course credits will be accepted by other institutions and you’ll receive assistance to find a job – and you find out neither representation is true?
Norma Coan, who received her paralegal degree from Daymar College in Louisville, Kentucky (the school has multiple campuses in several states) feels her only option is to join a lawsuit against the school – together with almost 170 other students from the Paduca and Louisville campuses. WHAS11 reports:
Coan says she received her paralegal degree in 2010 from Daymar at a cost of $30,000.
This is when she says the trouble started.
Coan said she received a couple of e-mails, which was all the help Coan says she got with job placement.
She says she then thought about continuing her education in hopes for a bachelor degree, but soon figured out that her Daymar College credits would not transfer.
Now, Coan says she is left with no job and no money to pay off her student debt.
Daymar College does not offer much of a description for its Paralegal Degree Program at its website. For example, what kind of degree is offered? The website does say that the paralegal program at its Owensboro, Kentucky campus is ABA-approved. But a quick check at the ABA’s site indicates that, at least as of the date of this post, the program is on PROBATION (all caps red letters same as the ABA). The ABA site indicates the degree offered is an Associate of Science Degree.
Maybe I’m wrong, but $30,000 is an awful lot to pay for an in-state two-year associate degree. I do know, without a doubt, that many vulnerable people, desperate for work in this economy, fall prey to aggressive marketing promises that jobs will land in their laps like low-hanging fruit from overladen trees – if they will just sign on the dotted line to pay for the magical degree.
And maybe I’m going to make some people mad, but I’m familiar with some of the career services offered by a few paralegal programs, and so far I’m not convinced that they offer anything a resourceful and motivated job seeker couldn’t – and shouldn’t – do on her own. As far as I can tell, none of them offer an inside track to guaranteed jobs at law firms and law-related employers.
Becoming employed as a paralegal requires careful advance planning. Paralegal students should know the hiring climate and typical job requirements for the area where they hope to work, even if it means reading the want ads at least weekly and creating a spreadsheet to track hiring trends. You think I’m kidding about a spreadsheet, but what do you think many real paralegals do all day? They summarize and present great gobs of data so that others can easily understand and use it.
A long-term educational plan including a bachelor’s degree is just plain smart-thinking in order to maximize your career potential and earnings. That plan includes verifying whether your associate degree credits will transfer. For recruiters at any program to promise credits are transferable anywhere is wrong, but the potential paralegal student also needs to do her own research and confirm that those credits will be accepted at most four-year schools before committing to a program.
Maybe I’m old school (seriously, no pun intended). I don’t think any college career center can guarantee its services will result in jobs for all of its graduates – or any of its graduates. I don’t think that any student should swallow that promise, if it’s made, hook, line, and sinker. No matter what kind of assistance you receive during the course of your education, whether it be from a committed instructor, a dedicated mentor, and/or a talented career counselor, ultimately you are going to be the one to find your own job – and you’re going to start that job search on the first day of classes.