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Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Chinle AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to 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 the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical issues to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency 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 targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Chinle AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What's the School's Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Chinle AZ law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Chinle AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School's Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you want to work. 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 wish to initially investigate those schools that are within the Chinle AZ region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help reduce part of the cost, so don't forget to contact the school's financial aid department to find out what is offered in Chinle AZ. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Chinle AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you choose offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.