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Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Guadalupe AZ area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over 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 decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Guadalupe AZ law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Guadalupe AZ law practices 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 rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Guadalupe AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask 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 sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School's Location? Because laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first look at those colleges that are within the Guadalupe AZ area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, 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 assistance might be available to help reduce some of the expense, so don't forget to consult with the school's financial aid office to see what is available in Guadalupe AZ. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Guadalupe AZ, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.