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What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs

Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Theodore AL area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical issues to research as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at several 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 decision.

Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a reputable 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 focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Theodore AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.

What's the School's Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular 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 select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Theodore AL law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.

Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Theodore AL legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.

Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.

Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within the Theodore AL region.

What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, 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 as well. Financial assistance might be available to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to contact the school's financial aid office to see what is available in Theodore AL. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.

Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Theodore AL, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.

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