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Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Green Valley AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to 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 potential 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 issues to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to 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 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 potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Green Valley AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant 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 caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Green Valley 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 though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Green Valley AZ legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign 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? Because laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Green Valley AZ region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school's financial aid office to see what is offered in Green Valley AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Green Valley AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.