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Things to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Kalifornsky AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical aspects to think about as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Kalifornsky AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Kalifornsky AK law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Kalifornsky AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School's Location? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those schools that are within the Kalifornsky AK area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don't forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school's financial aid department to find out what is offered in Kalifornsky AK. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Kalifornsky AK, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select provides that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.