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Things to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Jasper AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical 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 need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Jasper AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including 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 Jasper AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep 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 an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Jasper AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those schools that are within the Jasper AL area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don't forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Jasper AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Jasper AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.