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Things to Ask Paralegal Programs

Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Badger AK area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to consider also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.

Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Badger AK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.

What's the School's Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Badger AK law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.

Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Badger AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.

Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those colleges that are within the Badger AK region.

What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to see what is offered in Badger AK. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Badger AK, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

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