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Points to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Big Park AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to research as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Big Park AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as 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 Big Park AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Big Park AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those schools that are within the Big Park AZ region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don't forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help offset some of the expense, so don't forget to consult with the school's financial aid department to see what is offered in Big Park AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Big Park AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.