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What to Ask Paralegal Certificate or Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Holbrook AZ area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important issues to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on 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 Holbrook AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Holbrook AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Holbrook AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, possibly 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 attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially look at those colleges that are within the Holbrook AZ area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so don't forget to consult with the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Holbrook AZ. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Holbrook AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you choose offers that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.