The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
U.S. News & World Report’s Professors’ Guide recently posted an excellent article, “9 Tips for Community College Students”. While all of the tips are helpful to know prior to starting a community college program, the following tips are particularly useful for paralegal students.
Prepare to Be Active. Community college professors often see the class as an occasion to get the students actively involved, rather than treating them as sponges to sop up what the professor is dishing up. Be prepared to participate in discussions, make a presentation, play simulation or role-playing games, design experiments, and in some cases even do community outreach or service programs.
Being an active participant in your classes, college and community activities will not only help you develop your oral communication and presentation skills, as well as your network, but may help you get necessary experience for your resume.
Go see the prof. One of the great things about the community college is the tremendous number of hours the professors are required to sit in their offices to help students: At many schools professors are available, without appointment, for 10 hours and up each week. Take advantage of this one-on-one help before the test, before a paper or assignment, and especially when you feel lost in a course. The profs want to see you do well and are ready to help you do so.
Get to know your professors and establish a professional working relationship with them. Ask intelligent questions about assignments and don’t wait until the last minute to talk to them about making alternate arrangements in the event of family or personal emergencies. For students that graduate with little work experience, the references provided by their instructors will be essential.
Join the community. Community colleges realize that most students are commuters and don’t have the social benefits that they might have at a four-year college. They try to compensate by providing “cohort” programs and “study buddy” programs that will put you in touch with other students taking the same courses. Make full use of these wonderful opportunities to meet students with goals and lives similar to your own, but also others from different socioeconomic backgrounds, from different countries, and with different life experiences. The melting pot that is the community college is one of the great features of American college life: Make sure that even if you don’t melt, you join the stew.
Not only should you try to participate in at least a few regular college activities, but you should seek law-related volunteer opportunities in your community which allow you to expand your professional network and gain experience. These community activities may well assist you in getting that first entry-level paralegal job.
Preparation to work as a paralegal starts as soon as you enroll in a paralegal program. Being active in your college’s activities and in the legal community, as well as establishing good relationships with your professors, are all part of a complete paralegal education.