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What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Hueytown AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must 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 many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important factors to think about as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency 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 distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify 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 as well. A number of Hueytown AL law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What's the School's Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal 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 quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Hueytown AL law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Hueytown AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire 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 might wish to initially look at those colleges that are within the Hueytown AL region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don't forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize part of the cost, so don't forget to consult with the school's financial aid office to see what is available in Hueytown AL. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Hueytown AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose offers that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.