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What to Ask Paralegal Schools

Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Marana AZ area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important factors to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.

Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Marana AZ law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.

What's the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Marana AZ law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.

Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Marana AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.

Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.

Where is the School's Location? Since laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in Arizona or the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially investigate those schools that are within the Marana AZ area.

How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid department to see what is offered in Marana AZ. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Marana AZ, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.

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