Choosing a Paralegal School

With so many paralegal schools advertising on television, on the internet, in the newspaper, and in dozens of other places, how is it possible to choose the single best paralegal school out there? There are a lot of facts and information to consider before choosing a school and it is essential that all questions be answered before enrolling. Paralegal school can be expensive, so make sure to make the most educated choice possible before committing to a specific school!

Accredited vs. Non-Accredited: Some say that prospective paralegal school students should only enroll in paralegal training programs that have been approved by the American Bar Association (“ABA”). However, programs available at non-ABA-approved schools might be a better fit for a person’s schedule, budget, and overall needs. Before choosing a paralegal program, evaluate the pros and cons of attending a school that is accredited vs. non-accredited.

What is the School’s Reputation? When applying for a job as a paralegal, it is a real benefit to say where one’s paralegal certificate or degree was earned and to have the interviewer recognizes the school’s name immediately. Name recognition is important when it comes to schools, and so is a school’s positive or negative reputation. A brief search on the internet can reveal many positive and/or negative comments about specific schools.

Are Courses Up-to-Date? Some instructors have been teaching a particular course so long that they know each day’s lesson word-for-word by heart. However, the paralegal industry has evolved over the past decade, so it is important to choose a school whose instructors offer fresh classes, current textbooks and course materials, and current and real-world examples as part of the coursework.

Cost: The monetary cost of obtaining a paralegal certificate or degree can be significant. Some schools cost more than others, but it is important to keep in mind that the most expensive school is not always the best school. Prior to choosing a paralegal school, check to see if any scholarships are available and/or whether there are any possibilities of obtaining financial aid. The last thing anyone wants is to graduate with a certificate or a degree and then be burdened with an overwhelming amount of student loan debt.

Is the Program Flexible? Nobody can predict the future. It may be possible for a student to attend paralegal school on a full-time basis one semester, but then have to switch to a part-time or more flexible schedule the next. Is it allowable to take a semester off, if necessary? Are classes offered both on-campus and on-line? Make sure to investigate theses options before choosing a school, especially if a paralegal program is going to be completed in conjunction with a regular job and family responsibilities.

Internships and Job Placement: After graduation, the next step is to find a great job. Some paralegal school programs require students to complete an internship prior to graduation. Internships are great way to experience what a real-life paralegal position is like. Not only are internships an excellent way to learn, but they are also a means for developing contacts and determining which specific areas of law are of particular interest. In addition to internship placement, many schools offer job placement services upon graduation.

Conclusion: Choosing the best possible paralegal school is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. Furthering an education can be a great investment if the choice of schools is taken seriously. Rather than making a decision based on a television commercial or an advertisement, take the time to investigate specific schools that seem as though they might be a good match, and then choose a school that offers the best possible program, schedule, and student support services.

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