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What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Meridianville AL area, as well as vocational and trade 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 degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant factors to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Meridianville AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking 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 several Meridianville AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Meridianville AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School's Location? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially look at those schools that are within the Meridianville AL region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. 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 as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize part of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to see what is offered in Meridianville AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Meridianville AL, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.