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Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Steele Creek AK area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical aspects to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain 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 quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Steele Creek AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the School's Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying 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 rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Steele Creek AK law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Steele Creek AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing 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 good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within the Steele Creek AK region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school's financial aid office to see what is available in Steele Creek AK. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Steele Creek AK, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.