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Things to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Scottsboro AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Scottsboro AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Scottsboro AL law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Scottsboro AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School's Location? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it might be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first consider those colleges that are within the Scottsboro AL area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don't forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to contact the school's financial aid office to find out what is offered in Scottsboro AL. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Scottsboro AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.