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What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Forestdale AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already 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 some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Forestdale AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What's the School's Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Forestdale AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. 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 a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Forestdale AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School's Location? Considering that laws differ from state to state, 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 important to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. 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 may want to initially consider those colleges that are within the Forestdale AL region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don't forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Forestdale AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Forestdale AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.