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Points to Ask Paralegal Certificate or Degree Programs

Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Kenai AK area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial aspects to think about also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.

Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Kenai AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.

What's the School's Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Kenai AK law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.

Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Kenai AK legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.

Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.

Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially look at those colleges that are within the Kenai AK region.

What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. 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 assistance might be available to help minimize some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid department to find out what is offered in Kenai AK. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Kenai AK, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.

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