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Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Center Point AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn 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 as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain 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 get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Center Point AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the Program's Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Center Point AL law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Center Point AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable 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's Location? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want to work. 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 wish to first look at those colleges that are within the Center Point AL region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don't forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help offset part of the cost, so don't forget to consult with the school's financial aid office to see what is offered in Center Point AL. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Center Point AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.