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Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Ketchikan AK area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical factors to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Ketchikan AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing 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 call a few Ketchikan AK law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Ketchikan AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer 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 profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain 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 want to initially look at those colleges that are within the Ketchikan AK area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. 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 assistance might be available to help reduce some of the cost, so be sure to talk to the school's financial aid office to find out what is offered in Ketchikan AK. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Ketchikan AK, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.