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Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Boaz AL area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues 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 programs you are considering so that you can properly 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 accrediting agency 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 targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Boaz AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What's the School's Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Boaz AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Boaz AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those schools that are within the Boaz AL region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost 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 offset some of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to find out what is offered in Boaz AL. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Boaz AL, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select provides that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.