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Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Vestavia Hills AL area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial issues to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let's take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Vestavia Hills AL law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What's the School's Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Vestavia Hills AL law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Vestavia Hills AL legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in Alabama or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you want 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 might want to first look at those schools that are within the Vestavia Hills AL area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school's financial aid department to see what is available in Vestavia Hills AL. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Vestavia Hills AL, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.