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Points to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Lincoln AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical aspects to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation 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 final selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency 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 targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Lincoln AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Lincoln AL law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Lincoln AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing 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 good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within the Lincoln AL region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don't forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school's financial aid office to find out what is offered in Lincoln AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Lincoln AL, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.