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Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Kodiak AK area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected organization 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 education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Kodiak AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Kodiak AK law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Kodiak AK legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School's Location? Considering that laws vary among states, it might be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those schools that are within the Kodiak AK region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school's financial aid department to see what is offered in Kodiak AK. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Kodiak 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 enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.