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Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Fultondale AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important aspects to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected 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 targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Fultondale AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Fultondale AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Fultondale AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement 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 confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Fultondale AL region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in Fultondale AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Fultondale AL, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.