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Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Ozark AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many 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 also, 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 properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Ozark AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What's the Program's Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality 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 determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Ozark AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Ozark AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Ozark AL region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to see what is offered in Ozark AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Ozark AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in offers that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.