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Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Golden Valley AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant factors to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Golden Valley AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What's the Program's Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school 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 determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Golden Valley AZ law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Golden Valley AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating 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 probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School's Location? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Golden Valley AZ area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help offset part of the expense, so don't forget to consult with the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in Golden Valley AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Golden Valley AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.