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Questions to Ask Paralegal Certificate or Degree Programs

Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Flowing Wells AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant aspects to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.

Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Flowing Wells AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.

What's the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Flowing Wells AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.

Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Flowing Wells AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.

Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.

Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those schools that are within the Flowing Wells AZ area.

How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school's financial aid office to see what is available in Flowing Wells AZ. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Flowing Wells AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.

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