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Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Buckeye AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant factors to think about also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may 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 education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Buckeye AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Buckeye AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Buckeye AZ 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 entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to select a legal assistant school located in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those colleges that are within the Buckeye AZ area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don't forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Buckeye AZ. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Buckeye AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select offers that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.