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Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Mesa AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical aspects to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, 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 get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Mesa AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Mesa AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to start creating contacts within the Mesa AZ legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement 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 confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School's Location? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Mesa AZ area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may 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 available in Mesa AZ. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Mesa AZ, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.