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Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Prattville AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn 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 the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Prattville AL law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking 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 a few Prattville AL law practices that you may be interested 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 could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Prattville AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high 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 students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School's Location? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you desire to work. 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 wish to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Prattville AL area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so don't forget to contact the school's financial aid office to see what is available in Prattville AL. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Prattville AL, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select makes available that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.