No matter what your career path, you need to commit yourself to a good education in order to begin on a high note and showcase your skills. The same holds true for establishing a good foundation for a court reporting career. There are dozens of accredited schools across the country where Virginians can acquire the educational edge to stand out in the market.
The Arlington Career Institute (ACI) and the Prince Institute are only two of the many schools in which Virginians can make their mark in stenography. Both schools have valued reputations for producing skilled and goal-oriented stenographers, court reporters, and transcriptionists. This being said, the influx of “convenience training,” such as online courses and webinars, has begun to affect the enrollment in accredited schools and, maybe, erode the reputation of court reporters in general.
Disadvantages of Online Transcription Courses
The increased need for ease and convenience has caused schools to begin to lose focus on campus-based training. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; online programs have worked for students in many fields for years. But by eliminating hands-on training and the real-world pressures that court reporters must face, online programs rob students of opportunities to develop the skills they will need in their careers. Instead of learning what to expect once they are actually seated in a courtroom, they develop the following career disadvantages:
- A false sense of relaxation. Though online courses have deadlines and schedules, these schedules are usually relaxed. allowing students a wide-open window for completion. Since all the students aren’t required to meet at the same time, accountability for when their work is completed is pretty lax. Unfortunately, this isn’t a good model for professional court reporters. You can’t just wander into the courtroom whenever you feel like it, or turn in your transcript a week after the proceedings because you had more interesting things to do. Court reporters need to be dependable, prompt, and most of all efficient. An online course does little to prepare you for this kind of discipline.
- A false sense of social independence. For many students, an online course is a way to take a break from social interaction. Instead of dealing with professors and other students directly, they can hide behind their computers and merely type out emails to one another. Unfortunately, developing social skills is a must for court reporter success. This is a field where transcriptionists must deal extensively with attorneys, judges, judicial staff, plaintiffs, and defendants on a daily basis. Although these skills can quickly be learned once you get into the game, but you’d be infinitely more prepared if you had had face-to-face practice during training.
- A false sense of ease. When uploading an assignment or taking a test in the comfort of your own room, you miss out on the social and environmental pressures and distractions that a classroom (and courtroom) create. Though this may seem like a win for you, the first time you lose focus while a witness is giving a deposition—a door slams, a cell phone rings, etc.), you’ll wish that you spent more time honing your public concentration skills.
Despite the fact that online courses are generally cheaper, definitely more convenient, and in some aspects easier than a campus education, before enrolling you really need to consider the potential disadvantages it can have on your career.