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What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Sterling AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out 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 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 already covered, there are other crucial aspects to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a reputable 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 distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Sterling AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What's the Program's Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Sterling AK law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Sterling AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially look at those schools that are within the Sterling AK area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. 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 aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school's financial aid department to find out what is offered in Sterling AK. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Sterling AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.