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Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Enterprise AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important aspects to consider also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive 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 obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Enterprise AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Enterprise AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Enterprise AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools 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 substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within the Enterprise AL area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include 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 expense, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Enterprise AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Enterprise AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select makes available that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.