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  • Finish college or apply now?

    Good afternoon everyone,


    I am about to finish up my first semester of junior year in college. I am majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Criminal Justice. I have known for the past several years I want to pursue a career in law enforcement. My father retired in 2019 after thirty years of service as a State Investigator. To be honest, growing up with him and seeing what he does for work the past twenty years of my life is what really piqued my interest.

    I want to start applying to agencies in February, right before I turn 21 in March. For the past couple months I have been in a moral dilemma. I am slated to graduate in December of 2022, after next semester is done in April, I will have 96/120 credits completed towards my degree (80% done with college). My plan was to apply with agencies, and finish out the remaining six classes needed to get my degree after/if I get picked up by an agency. All of the agencies around me offer hefty tuition reimbursement. I went to a recruiting event two weeks ago, and all recruiters at the twelve departments there said that not having completed my degree is NOT going to make me ANY LESS competitive versus someone who does have it. This honestly shocked me, but of course I am taking the words of the department recruiters.

    My father and mother are adamant on me finishing my degree since I am so close to being done and feel like I will be lazy and not complete my degree once the paychecks start coming in and I get comfortable. They will support me no matter what I do. My heart is really set on applying and finishing the six classes left online after academy/fto etc. I am eager to start my career and applying soon, and I also want to utilize the tuition reimbursement offered by essentially every department here.

    How hard do you think it will be to finish the six classes left of my bachelors degree after academy & fto are done? Is it at all possible, even taking one class at a time or will I be too stressed out with work? I would appreciate any input you guys have for me, or if you also finished your degree after academy and how it was. All the best.

  • #2
    If you're on a swing shift it'll be hard to finish.

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't understand the rush. To me this is a no brainer. Agencies desperate to hire aren't going anywhere anytime soon. You will likely spend more in the long run trying to finish up if you ever do. How long to be hired in these agencies? I'm used to 9 months or more so if I was graduating in December next year I would be applying in the spring anyway. I can see maybe 3 pros to not finishing and probably 20 or more for finishing.

      Comment


      • base5150
        base5150
        Forum Member
        base5150 commented
        Editing a comment
        I really appreciate your input. To answer your question, The agencies out here in Arizona are usually quicker than agencies in California where I am originally from. Most departments out here told me from initial application date to start of academy if I pass everything, is usually no longer than 6 months. One specific agency told me, if I apply in early February, there is a good chance I can make it to the academy slated to start middle of May (Since I’m very young, much less background to go through). That means it would be a 3 month entire process. I was pretty surprised to hear that.
        base5150
        Forum Member
        Last edited by base5150; 11-30-2021, 07:18 PM.

    • #4
      Taking two courses at a time has been difficult for me to juggle with a full-time job and a family. I’m in the field late only two to three times a month. I maybe have court hearings scheduled twice a month. If I could do it over, I would have finished my accounting certificate when I had the luxury of being a full time student. It only gets harder the longer you wait.

      Comment


      • #5
        I got a master's at night when I was on active duty in the military. I did it but it was a major pain.

        Once you get hired, the academy will require 100 pct of your focus. After that, FTO will require 100 pct of your focus. Later, you'll get on a shift rotation that will conflict with your class schedule.

        Next thing you know, that 9 months of college you had to complete takes 2-3 years and your grades suffer because your focus and attention is divided.

        It can be done but life would be much easier for you to finish school first.

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        • #6
          I worked full time and went to school part time. It can be done but, in my situation, I was already a full time police officer. In your case, finish your degree and apply as a candidate with a degree. Tuition reimbursement for a handful of classes isn't worth abandoning your studies right now. Police agencies are still going to be desperate for candidates a year from now. Your parents are giving you sound advice. Stay in school.

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          • #7
            Finish out your degree. The reality is, your first year of LE will be occupied with learning how to be an LEO...academy, FTO, basic post-FTO training, etc will take up a good deal of your time. And, you'll be working a full time job (likely with plenty of OT, if the agency that hires you is anything like, well, every short-staffed police agency in the country). And, of course, life tends to happen when you're not at work. I've seen plenty of LEO's in their first year get engaged, married, first kids, first house, etc, all of which will cut into your already-limited personal time.

            The reality is that many new LEO's who intend to finish their education after they get hired are STILL intending to finish their educations 5-10 years later. It's much easier to go to school when you're living with your parents and don't have a stressful full-time job to take up your time.
            "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
            -Friedrich Nietzsche

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            • #8
              Finish your degree. If you get hired, your academy, training and career will suck up your time and you're likely to not end up completing your education.

              Also, good to have a fall back option in case LE doesn't work out. There's no rush, the hiring issues present today will probably get worse before they get better. The jobs will be there when you graduate.

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              • #9
                I'm gonna echo what the others have said. I worked full time while attempting college. College lost, and I wasn't even in law enforcement yet.

                As said above, academy will demand 100% of what you have. During my last academy, I used to go home at night, wrap my knees with ace bandages, put ice packs on them, elevate my legs, then have my wife bring me my dinner and the computer so that I could do another 4 hours of homework every night.

                And then when you get to FTO, the REAL work begins.

                And once you go solo, it transcends into a dimension you never knew existed. I've worked over 20 hours straight, with no breaks. I've worked every single day for weeks on end, with no days off. I've worked over 50 hours in 3 days, on a total of 3 hours of sleep (1 hour per day). I've worked multiple back-to-back double shifts...and then been subpoenaed to go to court all day. I've been called in to work on my day off when I was at home asleep in bed...and then ordered to work another 8 hours when that shift was over. You just cannot imagine what we do...
                Aidokea
                Forum Member
                Last edited by Aidokea; 12-01-2021, 09:22 PM.

                Comment


                • #10
                  Originally posted by Aidokea View Post
                  I'm gonna echo what the others have said. I working full time while attempting college. College lost, and I wasn't even in law enforcement yet.

                  As said above, academy will demand 100% of what you have. During my last academy, I used to go home at night, wrap my knees with ace bandages, put ice packs on them, elevate my legs, then have my wife bring me my dinner and the computer so that I could do another 4 hours of homework every night.

                  And then when you get to FTO, the REAL work begins.

                  And once you go solo, it transcends into a dimension you never knew existed. I've worked over 20 hours straight, with no breaks. I've worked every single day for weeks on end, with no days off. I've worked over 50 hours in 3 days, on a total of 3 hours of sleep (1 hour per day). I've worked multiple back-to-back double shifts...and then been subpoenaed to go to court all day. I've been called in to work on my day off when I was at home asleep in bed...and then ordered to work another 8 hours when that shift was over. You just cannot imagine what we do...
                  Don't forget working 17 days in a row enforcing COVID masks for protestors armed with rocks and bottles who are upset about something that happened 2,000 miles away!

                  Comment


                • #11
                  I did a AA degree and then got hired in Corrections and LE. I was always going to go get those last 2 yrs of college. That was 45 yrs ago.

                  Finish your degree if you want the degree

                  That being said, you CAN work full time and get any number of degrees ....................it's hard, you will be tired forever, but it can be done
                  My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    I'm currently in school online to finish my bachelor's. I've been working on it off and on for almost 7 years now. I'm finally at the home stretch. My last year. But in that time I went to the academy and all the other training. Worked nights. Had kids. Became an FTO, recruiter, SRO, background investigator, and many more hats that most of us have to wear at an agency. If I could go back, I'd take that year and half break after I got out the army and just finished school.

                    If you want to complete school. Complete school. The job will be there a year from now. You're not losing much seniority and besides at 20 years old. You're too young for this job.

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Finish your AA, then get your Bachelor's. In something other than CJ.

                      You'll thank me in 20 years.

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        Agreed,......almost anything other than CJ.

                        Comment

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