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Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Gardendale AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial aspects to think about as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded 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 focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Gardendale AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What's the Program's Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Gardendale AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor 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 present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Gardendale AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School's Location? Since laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first investigate those schools that are within the Gardendale AL region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length 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 as well. Financial assistance might be available to help minimize some of the expense, so don't forget to check with the school's financial aid office to see what is available in Gardendale AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Gardendale AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.