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Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Fountain Hills AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most 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 important factors to consider also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded 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 focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify 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 also. A number of Fountain Hills AZ law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Fountain Hills AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Fountain Hills AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable 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? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you want to practice. 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 may wish to initially look at those colleges that are within the Fountain Hills AZ area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don't forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to contact the school's financial aid office to see what is offered in Fountain Hills AZ. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Fountain Hills AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.