What's it like as a student in criminal justice?
Hi, my name is Grey and I'm in 11th grade going into 12th grade. I want to major in criminal justice, I just want a better understanding of what criminal justice is just so I know what's involved with it.
My question would be…what is your end-goal? Criminal Justice can be a legitimate program…but there are a lot of for-profit schools that offer that as a major but end up just ending you up in debt.
If you want to get in to law-enforcement, I would talk to local PD and ask them what the best path is. If it’s more a legal-path, I would seek out a local authority and try to get advice.
Sadly, criminal justice is one of those vague programs…and I’ve seen kids who wanted to be lawyers fall into it because the admissions counselor guided them there.
Gabriel's idea to reach out to your local PD is a great place to start!
A quick background about me-- I got my Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice from Purdue University and shortly after became a police officer. When I got hired at my department they sent me to the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy (where I learned criminal law, how to drive, etc.) I then spent 2 weeks at my department where they showed me their procedures, taught me the geography of the city, and how to use all of our equipment. I then spent 4 months in field training and continued to go to supplemental training after my probationary year.
Long story short, my criminal justice degree did nothing to help me be a police officer--your agency will train you in every aspect of the job and any extra help you need is available through your state codes, literature, and supplemental training your department will provide.
When you obtain a criminal justice degree (which may be a great program--but many are money grabs by universities) you pigeonhole yourself into just being a police officer, prison guard, or go off to law school (which is very expensive).
I encourage ANYONE who wants to go into law enforcement to obtain a degree that is in science, technology, or math (biology, chemistry, IT, engineering, computer science) and minor in criminal justice if it's something that interests them. That way, if you become a police officer and it doesn't work out you have a strong degree to fall back on. Police officers with criminal justice degrees (like myself) are a dime a dozen--getting a different degree will help you stand out, as well as protect you in the long run.