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Questions to Ask Paralegal Certificate or Degree Programs

Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the College AK area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important factors to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.

Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of College AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.

What's the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few College AK law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.

Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the College AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.

Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those schools that are within the College AK area.

How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help offset part of the expense, so don't forget to talk to the school's financial aid office to see what is available in College AK. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near College AK, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

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