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Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Drexel Heights AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective 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 factors to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Drexel Heights AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What's the School's Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have 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 services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Drexel Heights AZ law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Drexel Heights AZ legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Drexel Heights AZ region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to find out what is offered in Drexel Heights AZ. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Drexel Heights AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select provides that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.