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Points to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Catalina Foothills AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking 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 take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected 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 certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Catalina Foothills AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What's the Program's Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school 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 confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Catalina Foothills AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to start creating contacts within the Catalina Foothills AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within the Catalina Foothills AZ region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don't forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Catalina Foothills AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Catalina Foothills AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.