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Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Princeton AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical aspects to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded organization 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 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 establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Princeton AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What's the School's Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Princeton AL law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Princeton AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you choose 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 may wish to first investigate those schools that are within the Princeton AL area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help reduce some of the expense, so don't forget to consult with the school's financial aid office to see what is available in Princeton AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Princeton AL, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, find out what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.