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  • Degree Dilemma

    I'm trying to decide whether to get a bachelors in Political Science or go the technology route with Computer Science. I plan on a job in federal law enforcement with the US Marshal Service, ICE, or ATF when I graduate and am wondering if any one had an opinion on what the agencies are looking more for. My passion is political science and would help me further develop my writing skills but I know the money is in computer science if I can't get the law enforcement job I want. Thing is I don't know if I'll even be utilizing my skills in law enforcement if I major in computer science and would rather pursue something I'm passionate about.

    These days what would make me look more competitive if applying for a federal law enforcement position?

  • #2
    Computer science. It will open up a lot more doors for you for example, Forensics NCIS. I dont think I've met a person in law enforcement with political science. Maybe one or two.

    Yes it is going to be rough through academia majoring in computer science because its tougher information but it will be worth it. A friend of mine was set on criminal justice... he decided to pursue accounting in his undergrad instead and is turning out to be very successful. On the other hand, another person that majored in criminal justice is having a so and so time.

    Theres no guarantee you will be using computer science in federal law enforcement but its an extra skill set you bring to the table. =) Plus think of it like this.. if you get injured on the job or if federal law enforcement doesnt work out for you, you can pick a different career path easily.

    Remember hard skills.. accounting, computers, engineering.

    If you do political science instead.. it is possible to get into federal law enforcement but it will be much harder. (Because a degree in that or criminal justice is considered useless) Just my opinion, others will chime in, hope this helps some.
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    • #3
      Degree Dilemma

      Is a double major an option? That it very well may be an "either or" situation, but if the same school offers both majors, then you probably owe it to yourself to at least check it out.

      My other thought is to follow your passion. As the old saying goes, "if you get a job you love, then you will never work a day in your life."

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      • #4
        The Fed generally doesn't care what your degree is in unless you enter some kind of Fed LE job that requires a specific job track; computer, language, accounting, or intel as examples. I know IRS CI require so many semester hours of accounting to qualify for the CI position. My advice is to do something that you have passion for so you will actually enjoy college and it won't be a drag. I majored in CJ because I enjoyed it...and that lead me to finish with a high GPA and to actually take some knowledge away from college to use in the real world. You are dead on about the writing skills. Excellent writing skills will get you farther in a Fed LE job than nearly anything else. It's amazing how many Fed LE peeps I work with who couldn't write a report if their life depended on it. Don't be that guy. Good Luck!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Jim1648 View Post
          Is a double major an option? That it very well may be an "either or" situation, but if the same school offers both majors, then you probably owe it to yourself to at least check it out.

          My other thought is to follow your passion. As the old saying goes, "if you get a job you love, then you will never work a day in your life."
          I agree with jim on this one,

          I'm a double major, and find it to open many more doors than just one major. It is a lot of work but I'm sure if you commit yourself early and take summer courses it shouldn't be to rough.

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          • #6
            A double major actually may be an option now that you mention it. I'm choosing one of two schools depending on what my focus is. Both of these schools are the only two schools in California with a Career Skills Education Program(CSEP) with the USMS so I'm hoping to get into that program to help my chances and I'll also be doing ROTC to become an officer in the national guard by the time I graduate so all these things combined should make me an attractive candidate no matter which major I choose. Thing is with a computer science degree and a security clearance I could go work for any of the big contractors like Northrop Grumman or Raytheon and be sitting pretty if Federal LE doesn't work out.

            I know I personally would enjoy studying political science more (focus on international relations or public policy if that matters) but there's no ignoring the fact that it seems everyone loves an IT guy these days. But if I force myself to do computer science and end up struggling with it, I may be better off doing political science where I can keep my GPA strong and my interest high. Plus if I major in political science I'll most likely pick up my associates in information technology before I transfer to university anyways so I won't be a computer WHIZ but I'll know a lot more than joe schmoe. I'm thinking I may go the political science route and pray I get that CSEP internship with the Marshals but I'll wait till I get back from basic training and AIT before I set anything in stone since I won't be transferring to a university for 1-2 years from now regardless.

            EDIT: Upon seeing your advice and thinking about it jim and jersey, I may try and do the double major. Since I'm already getting an associates in information systems might as well just go all the way and double major. Plus I could even apply for the FBI with the computer skills I gain if only I could get past the pesky polygraph and my illustrious past heheh.

            Thanks for your advice everyone I'll take it all into consideration!
            Last edited by Wolf Man; 12-27-2010, 11:42 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by BiggyWannaBGman View Post
              Computer science. It will open up a lot more doors for you for example, Forensics NCIS.
              To clarify, computer science and forensics are not related fields. Forensics has to do with scientific testing (i.e. chemistry, biology, physics, etc.) of physical evidence, computer science has to do with... well, computers.
              sigpic

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              • #8
                I started off majoring in Political Science, and then added the Administration of Justice as a double major my junior year. Since I enjoyed the classes I was taking, it was much easier to study, show up, and get the grades I wanted. It probably improved my writing skills as well with all the papers I had to write for the PoliSci classes. I don't have an interest in federal law enforcement, but I was hired in under a year for a larger city department (Which is something you could keep in mind as well. Start off local and then use that experience plus a degree for the feds).

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                • #9
                  If your worried about affecting your GPA don't declare the second major right off the bat. Take some of the classes and see how it goes for you first. If you think you'll be able to handle the work load and enjoy both majors then you can always declare it later on. Just my two cents.

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                  • #10
                    A CS major in the IT field is worthless without experience...I've heard the FBI likes them, so that would work.

                    I'm a CS major by the way. Doing it because I've got plenty of IT experience/certifications, and makes good resume candy.

                    My opinion is to do what you're interested in. You can always take computer science courses if you want, as electives..

                    And BTW, "the money" is not in computer science degrees. It's in folks with a combination of education, experience, and certifications...many new graduates are working at best buy with comp science degrees.

                    And if you're not passionate about computer science, it will be a long four years. Just my $.02.

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                    • #11
                      Political Science if that is what interests you. Don't make the mistake of forcing something you don't like or are 100%. Maybe see if you can take the course pass fail if you aren't sure or test one out. Degree or experience is the most important, then GPA if you are looking at an internship/wanting to be competitive, then additional skills.

                      Try finding a job and working to pay some of your way through college, try the internships anywhere that interests you (local, fed). Also are you at all interested in foreign languages?

                      Sounds like you are going after the ROTC National Guard Commission to make yourself more competitive for law enforcement. Everyone has their reasons but to me it sounds sorta backasswards.
                      "Inside me is something that is too stupid to quit. I don't know where it comes from or why it is, but it is there and always has been."

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jersey eagle View Post
                        If your worried about affecting your GPA don't declare the second major right off the bat. Take some of the classes and see how it goes for you first. If you think you'll be able to handle the work load and enjoy both majors then you can always declare it later on. Just my two cents.
                        The university I graduated from required I take 10 courses through them. I had three or four required courses and the rest were electives. I took a couple CJ classes I thought looked interesting and loaded up on a mish-mash of business classes for the rest of my electives. I started seriously looking at a minor in a business discipline. I think I was two classes short of getting a minor in business management and major in CJ. I needed the pay raise more than I needed the minor so I decided to graduate without declaring the minor.

                        I will echo what others are saying. Study something you like. If it is something you have no interest in you will hate the classes, and if you get a job doing it you will hate you job. Neither will be conducive to being very successful.
                        But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

                        For the intelectually challenged: If the government screws the people enough, it is the right and responsibility of the people to revolt and form a new government.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JingleHeimrJify View Post
                          Political Science if that is what interests you. Don't make the mistake of forcing something you don't like or are 100%. Maybe see if you can take the course pass fail if you aren't sure or test one out. Degree or experience is the most important, then GPA if you are looking at an internship/wanting to be competitive, then additional skills.

                          Try finding a job and working to pay some of your way through college, try the internships anywhere that interests you (local, fed). Also are you at all interested in foreign languages?

                          Sounds like you are going after the ROTC National Guard Commission to make yourself more competitive for law enforcement. Everyone has their reasons but to me it sounds sorta backasswards.
                          Well I joined the National Guard to serve the country and pay for college so I figured I may as well try and become an officer while I'm serving since doing the ROTC program pretty much gets me a full ride through college. The fact that it'll make me look more attractive for a federal LE job is just a bonus.

                          It's funny you asked if I'm interested in foreign languages because I aim to learn spanish and arabic I may focus on the political science and try and increase my language skills on the side instead of forcing myself to take the computer classes since God knows I'm awful at math. Maybe I'm focusing too much on what the feds would want and should just focus on myself and develop my own strengths and everything will work out how God plans it.

                          We'll see.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Wolf Man View Post
                            Well I joined the National Guard to serve the country and pay for college so I figured I may as well try and become an officer while I'm serving since doing the ROTC program pretty much gets me a full ride through college. The fact that it'll make me look more attractive for a federal LE job is just a bonus.

                            It's funny you asked if I'm interested in foreign languages because I aim to learn spanish and arabic I may focus on the political science and try and increase my language skills on the side instead of forcing myself to take the computer classes since God knows I'm awful at math. Maybe I'm focusing too much on what the feds would want and should just focus on myself and develop my own strengths and everything will work out how God plans it.

                            We'll see.
                            Wolfman,

                            My advice to you is do whatever you enjoy. If you pursue a degree that you don't enjoy you will likely not do well and you'll be unhappy. It's more important to study something that you find enjoyable. 4 years is a long time to be miserable. Most 1811 positions require a degree, but don't specify in what field. Your work experience is just as, if not more important.

                            If computers is something you enjoy, then pursue it. If chemistry is something you enjoy, then pursue it. If you like statistics, then pursue it.

                            This same mentality applies to a job in law enforcement. I am in a non 1811 agency and I see far too many people "shot gunning" because they want the Special Agent title. They fail to do two things: Figure out what they want and figure out what agency can offer it.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Wolf Man View Post
                              Well I joined the National Guard to serve the country and pay for college so I figured I may as well try and become an officer while I'm serving since doing the ROTC program pretty much gets me a full ride through college. The fact that it'll make me look more attractive for a federal LE job is just a bonus.

                              It's funny you asked if I'm interested in foreign languages because I aim to learn spanish and arabic I may focus on the political science and try and increase my language skills on the side instead of forcing myself to take the computer classes since God knows I'm awful at math. Maybe I'm focusing too much on what the feds would want and should just focus on myself and develop my own strengths and everything will work out how God plans it.

                              We'll see.
                              Sounds like a good plan, start with the languages your first semester. Depending on the size of your university they might not have a lot of languages. Let me know how it goes.
                              "Inside me is something that is too stupid to quit. I don't know where it comes from or why it is, but it is there and always has been."

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