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Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Robertsdale AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if 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 discussed, there are other crucial factors to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Robertsdale AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What's the Reputation of the Program? 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 field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Robertsdale AL law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Robertsdale AL legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially investigate those schools that are within the Robertsdale AL region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Robertsdale AL. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Robertsdale AL, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.