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What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Fishhook 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 include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant factors to consider also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may 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 receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Fishhook AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the Program's Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Fishhook AK law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Fishhook AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School's Location? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in Alaska or the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those colleges that are within the Fishhook AK region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to contact the school's financial aid department to see what is offered in Fishhook AK. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Fishhook 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 provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.