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Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Auburn AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out 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 also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant issues to think about also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Auburn AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What's the School's Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education 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 several Auburn AL law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Auburn AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School's Location? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first consider those colleges that are within the Auburn AL area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don't forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so don't forget to consult with the school's financial aid department to see what is offered in Auburn AL. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Auburn AL, verify classes are offered 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. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.