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Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Satsuma AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to 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 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 discussed, there are other significant issues to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Satsuma AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What's the Program's Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Satsuma AL law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Satsuma AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School's Location? Since laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to select a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first look at those colleges that are within the Satsuma AL region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school's financial aid department to find out what is offered in Satsuma AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Satsuma AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you choose provides that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.