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What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Albertville AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. 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 already discussed, there are other important issues to consider also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Albertville AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What's the School's Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Albertville AL law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Albertville AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those schools that are within the Albertville AL area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so don't forget to consult with the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Albertville AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Albertville AL, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.