If you are just starting or considering taking a criminal justice degree, you are embarking on an intriguing educational and career path. You will take interdisciplinary coursework that delves into various areas, from history, sociology and psychology to law, policing and criminal procedures and it may seem impossible to master all of it at times.
Luckily there have been criminal justice students before you that have slogged for two, four or more years and succeeded. (Some have even enjoyed themselves throughout the challenge).
After searching the World Wide Web for online forums, blogs and testimonials, as follows is smattering of advice from students who have completed at least their first year or have graduated with their criminal justice degree.
On Carthage College’s “Student Voices” webpage, Criminal Justice Major, Rachel Harrison (who has competed nationally with the school’s Mock Trial Team, been a member of the Honors Program and co-president of one of the school’s law fraternities) makes this recommendation:
“My advice would be to get involved with the program. There are a lot of internships and opportunities through the Criminal Justice program, whether you are going for law or law enforcement. Get to know the professors, also. They are always willing to help, and they can get you on the right track to accomplishing your goals”.
This student, who is almost done his degree, posted this practical advice on Penn Foster Career School’s Criminal Justice Associates Degree Discussion Forum:
“The books early in the studies are pretty self explanatory and simple to find your information. However, the farther you go the more complicated these books become…When you see something highlighted or in bold print, between big double lines, or in the margin of the text, it’s a pretty good bet that you will see this again later in life. I jot down what it says, and what page number in what book. Then when it comes time for the final exam you have an easy reference guide, that if you put it in the computer you can actually print out an alphabetized copy to more quickly reference your subject matter. This may not seem like a lot, but after you take your first proctored exam you will see what I mean by being prepared and finding subject matter fast. Those tests will be brutal if you are not prepared and the time limit will sneak up on you really quickly”.
And finally let’s hear from two individuals who each graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of South Alabama (in 1974 and 1977 respectively). They each pursued higher education levels afterwards and went on to gain successful careers within the criminal justice system. Here is their advice for criminal justice students:
Court of Appeals Judge, Pamela Baschab states, “Learn to appreciate our history and politics. Learn to write good grammar and composition. Learn to negotiate and debate. Learn how and why the system really works.”
A Department of Justice Law Enforcement/Victim Witness Coordinator, Eric T. Day recommends, “The race is not given to the swift, nor victory to the strong, but ultimately to the one who endures to the end. Do Not Give Up!”
Remember as you pursue your criminal justice degree, you can also seek advice from more senior students, tutors at your school’s academic support center, academic advisors, professors and teacher assistants.