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What to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Pike Road AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. 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 already covered, there are other crucial aspects to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency 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 education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Pike Road AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the School's Reputation? Learn 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 prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Pike Road AL law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Pike Road AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering 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 undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. 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 sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School's Location? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in 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 neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first consider those schools that are within the Pike Road AL area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount 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 may be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school's financial aid office to see what is offered in Pike Road AL. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Pike Road AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.