Last week perhaps was one of the biggest steps made in the land of recognizing online degree graduates as people to be reckoned with in the working world. I happen to request google alerts from "Concord Law School," the "oldest" of the online law schools offered on the net at the young age of 10 years old. As an aside, yes, I am looking at this non-ABA, only California accredited law school as a possibility in the future for me to indulge in a legal education. It's online, and a quarter of the cost of a law school around the DC area, so yeah, I am looking at it. Anyway, the biggest 2 liners of the week for Concord Law School were these headlines: "Online Law School Grad Who Sued to Take Bar Gets His License," and "Concord Law School Team Competes in National Moot Court Finals."
First of the headlines, is a major break through, at least from the stand point that of the people in Massachusetts who could take the bar, it was only for ABA- accredited school graduates. However, Ross Mitchell of Newton, Mass, and graduate of the Los Angeles based Concord Law, had the courage in November of last year to stand in front of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts pro se and state his case that he should take the Massachusetts Bar, despite that he did not graduate from an ABA-accredited school. He won favor with the court, a 6 to 1 decision, and on June 22 of this year, he was admitted into the Massachusetts Bar. This was so earth shattering, that even the National Law Review picked up the story.
With regards to the second headline, two Concord students made it to the finals in the National Moot Court, which was held in Washington, DC. They beat out other universities, and were face-to-face to Stanford Law students at the American Constitution Society Annual Convention in Washington. 45 schools participated in this event, and to think that Concord was up against one of the toughest-curriculum law schools in the country is quite amazing!
Looking at these accomplishments with Concord students and graduates, is making me take a longer look about going to an online school. In today's world, everyone is so accustomed to the "brick and mortar" education. However, with the abundance of information and education online, it actually makes people rethink their lives and priorities and say "Hey, I can do this!" I know with the development of distance and online education, there is the need for the accreditation measures to make sure that these schools are legitimate and not something that is used as a marketing tool. Having a good education accessible to everyone who can afford it and can "get in" a school will help those who don't have the time, and yes, money, to attend a college of their choice and live on its campus. I mean, I definitely enjoyed my college experience, with the friendships that I developed over the years. I don't want the "brick and mortar" schools to go away. But logging on a computer anywhere in the world at 8:00 at night would be better than trying to get a baby sitter and beat traffic just to get that masters or law degree. Not many employers would think that kind of education is worth while. But it is a degree. However, I believe taking a distance course takes alot of self-discipline and desire to do it. After all, I am taking a paralegal course through distance education means. That is ALOT of self-discipline just to turn in assignments on time while looking for employment and raising my two girls.
I think the reputation of the online education, over time, will get better. As more Phoenix University and Concord Law graduates enter the workforce, more employers are going to have to look at those school names on resumes, and see that while these people were raising families and holding down jobs that they actually took the time to learn something. How convenient can an education be when all that an online graduate wanted to do was to get a better paying job so that his/her child can go to a "brick and mortar" school. That is the American dream, isn't it?