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Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Meadow Lakes AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical issues to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Meadow Lakes AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the School? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Meadow Lakes AK law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Meadow Lakes AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to select a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those schools that are within the Meadow Lakes AK region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don't forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to contact the school's financial aid department to see what is offered in Meadow Lakes AK. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Meadow Lakes AK, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.