How to Get Started in Criminal Justice: Part 3

5 - Read the Syllabus: You are solely responsible for the work you do or don’t do when taking an online college course. When taking a criminal justice class online , you have added flexibility. But with that flexibility comes responsibility. Take the time to read the syllabus. Know what the expectations are, when assignments are due, and ultimately, prepare yourself for what you will be tested and graded on.

6 - Don’t Mistake Feelings for Knowledge: In other words: write in the third person, not the first. Writing about how you feel about a topic is not a substitute for critical reflection and doing the academic work.

7 - Use Online Discussion Boards Wisely: “I agree with what she said,” or “Uh-huh,” aren’t the kind of responses that a professor is looking for when a student is asked to respond in an online discussion board, if your online classes include discussion boards. The effort you put into your online criminal justice course will be reflected back in the form of your grade.  

8 - How to Best Interact with Your Professor Online: Once you have transferred your college credits earned through self-directed online college course provider like StraighterLine and have enrolled in an accredited online college or university like Excelsior University, University of Phoenix or SUNY Empire State College – you will become part of a group working with a professor to cover advanced level course material. And, from time to time, you will need to communicate with that professor. Whether you are taking an online or on-campus class in criminal justice, the same common sense communication techniques apply:

  • If you ask your professor a question, give your professor the appropriate amount of time to respond. On campus, one post-it note on the door is sufficient. Online, if your professor hasn’t responded to your question in a few hours, review your syllabus for the written policies about when to expect a response by a professor. If the required amount time has not passed, be patient, and wait for a response.
  • Protocol generally determines that professors are required to respond to questions in 24 hours during the week, or possibly more over the weekend. Give your professors the courtesy of that time. Calling or texting the same question after emailing it won’t give you a quicker response – it will only fill up their in-box, getting in the way of other students who need assistance as well. 

Tips for Getting Started with a Career in Criminal Justice:

1 - Know Yourself: The criminal justice field is not for the timid or reactionary. It’s an intense career that requires a special kind of person. If you can’t deal with the sight of blood, a job on the police force probably is not a good fit. If you get easily flustered or are quick to temper, you may also want to consider another field. After all, you will be dealing with people who might swear at you, insult you, and call you some pretty nasty names – as a police officer you need to be able to maintain your self-control at all times, in all kinds of difficult circumstances. (To find out more, make sure you read this other StraighterLine Report, “Criminal Justice: Do You Have What It Takes?”)

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