Back To School!
It’s that time of year! As we approach the holidays, many LEOs start thinking of going back to school. I know because I have breakfast, lunch or coffee with a bunch of officers every year about this time to discuss the pros and cons of starting a degree. This fall is no exception.
Why do so many people consider returning to school in the fall? Well, I believe there are several reasons. The first is that many schools begin accepting applications on January 1. As an aside, YOUR application should arrive on January 1 to give the admissions committee multiple opportunities to consider your request for admission. Second, LEOs start thinking about advancing their education as we approach the new year. After all, not all New Year’s resolutions involve weight loss! Finally, expenses of the holidays often raises the thought of promotion and advancement through education. If you decide to go back to school, you will not be alone. Enrollment for adults 30 – 34 has been on the rise for many years.
I understand the difficulty of pursuing higher education while working as a LEO. For the first year of law school, I told most students and professors that I was in “pest control” because I did not care to hear their opinions of law enforcement. The time demands are tough, but the reward is worth it. At some point, you will realize that the light at the end of the tunnel is not a locomotive! Your determination to never give up will carry you through. I have great respect for those who pursue and complete their undergraduate degrees while working full time as LEOs. Getting the commitment of your significant other is very important.
In the current climate, it is easier to obtain promotions with a degree or two. That is the reality. Seek a degree and classes that interest you and keep the big picture. Most masters programs can be completed in two years. Most credit hours will transfer to POST or state continuing education credits so your department will benefit from your efforts.
Paying for the degree is not a hard as you think. Many departments have tuition reimbursement programs. Many other groups have scholarships and there are many loan programs available. For example, the Fraternal Order of Police has scholarships at the local, state and national levels. In fact, the Grand Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police has a program called the National Fraternal Order of Police University.
I have found LEOs to be a motivated and dedicated group of professionals. Education is a part of any profession. You will benefit from your time in the classroom, your department will benefit from your enhanced knowledge and new perspectives and your family will benefit from a stronger resume on your computer. Trust me; I’m a lawyer!