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Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Hoover AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant aspects to research as well, 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 researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Hoover AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the Program's Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Hoover AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Hoover AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those schools that are within the Hoover AL region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school's financial aid office to see what is offered in Hoover AL. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, such as 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 to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Hoover AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.