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Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Troy AL area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating 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 enroll in need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency 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 distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Troy AL law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What's the Program's Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Troy AL law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Troy AL legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to select a legal assistant school located in Alabama or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first consider those schools that are within the Troy AL area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount 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 as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school's financial aid office to see what is available in Troy AL. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Troy AL, verify 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. Last, ask what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.