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Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Chandler AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical aspects to consider also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Chandler AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the School's Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Chandler AZ law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Chandler AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those colleges that are within the Chandler AZ area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don't forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help reduce some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Chandler AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Chandler AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.