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What to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Brewton AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must 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 the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant factors to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Brewton AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Brewton AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Brewton AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be a good idea 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 establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those schools that are within the Brewton AL region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help minimize some of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid department to see what is offered in Brewton AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Brewton AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.