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Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Madison 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 add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective 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 factors to think about as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get 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. A number of Madison AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What's the Program's Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Madison AL law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Madison AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you desire to practice. 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 investigate those schools that are within the Madison AL area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don't forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school's financial aid office to see what is available in Madison AL. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Madison 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 choose provides that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.