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Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Lakes AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can 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 most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical aspects to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Lakes AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Lakes AK law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Lakes AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those schools that are within the Lakes AK area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible 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 Lakes AK. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Lakes AK, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.