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Points to Ask Paralegal Certificate or Degree Programs

Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Oneonta 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 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 begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical factors to research as well, such as 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 thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.

Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Oneonta AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.

What's the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school 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 contact several Oneonta AL law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.

Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to start creating contacts within the Oneonta AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.

Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those schools that are within the Oneonta AL region.

What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don't forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so don't forget to talk to the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in Oneonta AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Oneonta AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.

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