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Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can 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 many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical 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 properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Fortuna Foothills AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What's the Program's Reputation? Investigate 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 previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing 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 call a few Fortuna Foothills AZ law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Fortuna Foothills AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those schools that are within the Fortuna Foothills AZ region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don't forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so don't forget to consult with the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Fortuna Foothills AZ. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Fortuna Foothills AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.