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Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Daleville AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important factors to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Daleville AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What's the School's Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Daleville AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Daleville AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring 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 attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Daleville AL region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so don't forget to contact the school's financial aid office to find out what is offered in Daleville AL. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Daleville AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select provides that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.