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Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs

Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Eloy AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant factors to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.

Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee 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. Numerous Eloy AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.

What's the Program's Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Eloy AZ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.

Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Eloy AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools 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 large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.

Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first consider those colleges that are within the Eloy AZ area.

What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential earned 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 supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school's financial aid office to find out what is offered in Eloy AZ. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Eloy AZ, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose offers that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

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