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Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Chena Ridge AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant aspects to research also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Chena Ridge AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Chena Ridge AK law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Chena Ridge AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those schools that are within the Chena Ridge AK region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Chena Ridge AK. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Chena Ridge AK, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.