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Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Pleasant Grove AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important factors to think about as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Pleasant Grove AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Pleasant Grove AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Pleasant Grove AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help 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. Find out 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 sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first investigate those colleges that are within the Pleasant Grove AL region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don't forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school's financial aid office to see what is available in Pleasant Grove AL. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Pleasant Grove AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.