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Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Chickasaw AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively 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 organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Chickasaw AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What's the School's Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Chickasaw AL law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to start creating contacts within the Chickasaw AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those schools that are within the Chickasaw AL area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending 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 assistance might be available to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Chickasaw AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Chickasaw AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.