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Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Hartselle AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant aspects to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Hartselle AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What's the School's Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Hartselle AL law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Hartselle AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large 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 vary from one state to another, it might be advantageous to select a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those schools that are within the Hartselle AL area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, 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 as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in Hartselle AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Hartselle AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select offers that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.