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Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Tuskegee AL area, as well as trade and vocational 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 degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial aspects to think about as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Tuskegee AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, 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 legal assistant 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 caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Tuskegee AL law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to start creating contacts within the Tuskegee 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 Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Alabama or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the area 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 go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those colleges that are within the Tuskegee AL area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don't forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help offset some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school's financial aid department to find out what is available in Tuskegee AL. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Tuskegee AL, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.