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What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Eufaula AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Eufaula AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What's the Program's Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Eufaula AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Eufaula AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask 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 sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those schools that are within the Eufaula AL region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to see what is available in Eufaula AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Eufaula AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.