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Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Midfield AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know 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 the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to think about as well, including 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 researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should 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 focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Midfield AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What's the Program's Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Midfield AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Midfield AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially investigate those schools that are within the Midfield AL area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Midfield AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Midfield AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select offers that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.