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Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Wasilla AK area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know 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 many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical factors to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at some 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 decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Wasilla AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What's the Program's Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Wasilla AK law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Wasilla AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement 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 confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to select a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially consider those schools that are within the Wasilla AK area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so don't forget to consult with the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in Wasilla AK. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Wasilla AK, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.