Thinking about becoming a cop... parents flipping out

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by ayeying, Nov 1, 2009.

  1. ayeying macrumors 601


    Dec 5, 2007
    Yay Area, CA
    You know, honestly, in this type of economy, It's becoming hell just trying to find a simple job that pays well and can advance me these days. Majority of the classifieds I see are of Unpaid internships or experience of over 5+ years required for a certain area which I just don't see how it would work out, even if I manage to graduate in 2 years of college.

    So me, being pretty mobile and almost never at home, been thinking about signing up for the Highway Patrol and hopefully get a permanent position in that branch which would help with job area and get experience in advancement (hopefully).

    But my parents are completely flipping out about this idea now. Ironically, they would rather have me join the military then becoming an officer. They talk to me about all these dangers, how, they hear about some cop getting shot on the news or killed and I honestly don't see that happening in the position I'm hoping to get. Statistically shown, the highway patrol only had a little over 200 officer deaths since its formation nearly 90 years ago. Which, imo, seems pretty good compared to a city cop or even an county cop.

    They seem to believe that the major I'm in, computer science, is becoming too hard for me, which in reality, it's not. In fact, it's not the major that I'm pissed off at, it's the fact that there's almost no jobs for me to get, no way I can spend 15 hours at a non-paid internship and still expect to pay my bills and my parents aren't rich either so asking them for money is not feasible. Getting loans, literally isn't worth it. My first year loan was 20k and total payback after graduation is 80k, nearly 4x what I originally borrowed. I scrambled as much money as we could and paid that freakin' loan off cause the interest alone made it not worth it.

    I don't know... I really want to take this route cause I want to be more active than sitting in a cubicle and have a more stable job position then a low-level desk jockey with almost no room for advancement.

    Anyone have any suggestions or comments or flaming for me?
  2. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    You could ask your parents what their real fear is and then present them with data supporting your claim, that statistically speaking, not that much deaths occurred since the inception of the HP. YOu can also show them, that more soldiers died during the same time period, and not even during war related situations.

    Maybe you just have to take their fears away, and be firm about it, that you really want this, and not sitting in a cubicle. Hope this helps a bit.
  3. superspiffy macrumors 6502a

    Feb 6, 2007
    Hey I applied to be a cop too. Didn't get in but only because I admitted to doing weed within the last 2 years (no one told me to not do that. lol) If you get denied, I think they'll let you apply in another two years after the time that you did weed.

    And if you want to join the military good for you! You know you're better off taking the OCS (officer candidate school) route but only if you get a college diploma. So you can join as a military officer instead. Now I actually strongly considered doing this but the branches I wanted to join (Navy or Air Force) are highly competitive and won't take you unless you got good grades and took plenty of science/math courses. I can still do Army or Marines because they don't focus too much on academic crap, but I may have to wait up on that until after it calms down over there in Afghanistan.

    Seriously though, are you saying you're already in college and have like 2 yrs under your belt, and thinking about dropping out? I'd advice you to finish up first because you'd have infinitely more options open for you on whatever it is you decide to do after you graduate. Employers would see that you're a "college dropped out" and you're going to find it more difficult looking for a job especially if you've had little job experience already. A friend of mine dropped out after 3 years of Mechanical Engineering because he couldn't hack it and he can't even find a job in McDonalds now. Even if you want to go into law enforcement, you get paid more as a college graduate and I imagine promotions come faster. Military too like what I've said.

    Just suck it up, and hold on. And if it gets too hard you can always switch majors. Nothing wrong with that. I did it 3 times lol. The important thing is to finish what you started. It's already hard finding a job out there WITH a college diploma, what makes you think you're better off without? College will go by go by faster before you know it. And don't worry about accumulating too much debt. You're young and when you get a real salary, those loans will simply met away.
  4. cantthinkofone macrumors 65816


    Jul 25, 2004
    Missouri, USA
    The highway patrol would be a very good career choice. I hope to go to school to be a sheriff deputy next fall. I've done two ride-alongs and they were a lot fun. The Missouri Highway Patrol is hard to get into, and I'm sure every state's is. If you can make it in don't look back and go for it.

    I can understand your parents concern. All the crazy stuff seems to happen in California. Or at least the stuff you hear about.
  5. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 6, 2006
    To be honest with you, you should stick it out and get a degree, even if you want to join the armed forces or the police force. The pay is higher, the potential for advancement is higher, and if you ever decide you want a different career you'll already have the minimum credential for most of them, a bachelors degree.
  6. jecapaga macrumors 601


    Jul 1, 2007
    Southern California
    I agree with this. Stick it out, get the degree. You can always become an officer later and the degree may help and might offer higher initial salary.
  7. kindablue09 macrumors regular


    Mar 26, 2009
    Your post reminded me of an article from the NY Times that I really like.

    Its a bit long, but the main idea of it is that society dictates that we are to all go into the 8-5 world of desk jobs, but the reality of it is that life isn't for everyone. If I had to sit at a desk all day for my job, I'd go crazy.

    So my opinion is that you should work toward a career that you think would make you happy (and support your lifestyle :p). On the flip side, education never hurts in this world, even if you don't use it. I for one, would be very hesitant to head out into this world w/o a 4 year college degree (or some sort of professional training). If you are able to get a degree, it usually helps with finding a job or obtaining a higher salary.

    It sounds a bit cruel or ignorant, but your parents will have to deal. Law enforcement is a respectable and important profession. Its not like you are picking a really sketchy job like coal mining.

    Maybe you can shop around and see what kind of degree would help you in law enforcement? That way once you are in the field, the degree will (hopefully) help you move around/up or it may even apply to your job (forensics comes to mind... but I don't know much about law enforcement).

    hope that helps
  8. agkm800 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 18, 2009
    I don't think being a cop necessarily put yourself in danger depends on the district. Also, many military guys become cops so your parents rather see you join the military wouldn't change your mind too much, so why not just follow your heart? Good luck.
  9. allisonv7 macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2004
    I'd say continue on your route to get a degree while doing a couple ride-alongs a month to see if it's really something that you would like to do. I'd also do ride-alongs with different departments, state, local and county. While your degree may be in CS you may be able to take some criminal justice courses that may give you an edge up should you decide to apply.

    I think if you tell your parents you're going to finish your degree while trying out the Highway Patrol job they'd be more accepting plus will have more faith that after two years of ride-alongs this is something you really are serious about.
  10. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    I would say finish your degree. Many pd require there officers now to either have experice or a college degree before they let you in. Also with a degree you can advance farther and faster than with out one.
    I though about trying to be a cop after I lost my job until I say some of the phiscal requirements and I would fail that. Uncorrected you need 20/200 vision (be able to read the 2nd row of a vision chart). For me I can not even read the top row. Last time I had my eyes check the eye doctor ask me to read the smallest row I could my response was "Does it count that I know the top letter is an eye"
  11. IntheNet macrumors regular


    Oct 6, 2009
    1. Get your degree first, if you can.

    2. Consider related positions within law enforcement. Recommend US. Border Patrol. Nice life, particularly if you can get a job on U.S. northern border with Canada. Local PD/Deputy Sheriff position is nice too.
  12. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 6, 2006
    Its not cruel or ignorant, its the truth. The fact is, it is your career, the only person that has to enjoy it is you. Letting someone else dictate your career choice will more than likely end in unhappiness. Your parents will get over your choice to become a police officer; its a respectable career that needs intelligent, ethical, and hardworking individuals.

    That said, I still think you should finish a college degree. It will prove to be more valuable than you think and will probably help you out quite a bit as you get older and want to move up or switch careers. Also, look at attending a community college for two years. They are very inexpensive and probably won't require any loans. Then go to a state school and look for government loans and aid for the final two years; you should be able to get a fairly low 4%-6% interest rate on federal student loans.
  13. dmr727 macrumors G3


    Dec 29, 2007
    If you want to be a cop - be a cop. But I'd finish school first.
  14. ayeying thread starter macrumors 601


    Dec 5, 2007
    Yay Area, CA
    First off, I would like to thank everyone who took his or her time to respond. It has given me many areas to look at beyond then what I first thought of. I’m going to respond to each replies in order… not gonna quote them cause it’ll get pretty long.

    My parent’s real fear is pretty obvious. I’m an only child and I understand their side of being somewhat overprotective. I guess I can say I’m more of glad that they are protective then to be angry that they’re trying to control my life. The statistics are making an impact. To be honest, statistically, I have a better chance of an incident on my motorcycle then being a law enforcement officer.

    I’ll remember about the drug part but honestly, I haven’t done any weed since high school. I’m not entirely sure which state you’re referring to though, I’m hoping it’s California cause that’s where I’m planning on applying to (since I live in the state lol). On the military side, if I were to enlist, I would work it through into the officers and not just serve my country for 2-4 years and quit. I don’t like leaving a work undone especially if its something huge. If I were to join a branch in the military, it would have to be the Army. There’s several factors to that decision including my lack of swimming skills, fear of crashing a F-16 fighter on the carrier, etc lol. I am in my 2nd year of college, but all my classes are of general education, nothing’s been
    focused on the major at all. It isn’t helping these days either because of budget cuts. My last class I tried to enter had an opening for 36 students and there were close to 4x the amount on the waitlist. I honestly don’t want to drop out, and frankly, I’m hoping to avoid that. I wouldn’t mind putting my education on hold but I do not want to drop out. As I stated earlier, I don’t like putting things aside when it’s not completed. Education isn’t an excuse for that for me. Accumulating debt isn’t my concern, it’s the bills that I have to pay currently that is a pretty big concern. Working part time and going to school is fine, that is, if jobs are even available. I do have experience under my belt, but its related to a specific field that I honestly don’t want to go back in (cubical job).

    I really like your statement here: “If you can make it in don’t look back and go for it”. Right now, knowing myself, if I think of something and am willing to commit to it, it’s almost 100% certain that I’ll only be committed to working to that goal at this moment. What I mean is that, if saying I want to be a cop now, but put it off to join the academy next year, it’s most likely not going to happen at all. I gotta admit, that’s a pretty big flaw about me.

    Pay really isn’t my concern, the fact I’ll have a job is better then right now. However, is it possible to continue school while holding a job in the law enforcement area? I hear about people doing 2 jobs and going to school full time, why not the opposite?

    Kinda answered Jecapaga’s comment along with rhsgolfer33’s comment.

    When I took Criminal Justice back in High School, we went through the basics of law enforcement, courts and the forensics system. I really liked that course and it really hit me that it’s a path that I could consider. However, I never chose that path in the beginning, that I’m regretting now, because I had more experience in computers under my belt, hoping it’ll be easier going with computers than starting something entirely new. I read the article and I understand how some people really cannot stand the average desk job. I honestly couldn’t. Even though I’m laid off now, I can honestly say that it was boring and rather stressful to be sitting and doing tedious work that the other coworkers didn’t want to do. Even sitting with them for an hour, I could see that it really wasn’t for me. I didn’t plan on quitting, especially with the economy direction, but the economy hit the company and I was let go. But with this down side, it creates an opening for me to pursue a new path. I personally don’t have a real specific point within law enforcement that I want to do (forensics, detective, etc). The whole fact of law enforcement interests me. Maybe when I’m in the department/branch I’ll have a specific area I want to focus on, but right now I don’t have any.

    I do plan on following what my heart desires…

    I’m not entirely sure if we have any ride arounds here in the CHP. I will ask the local offices and see what’s up about that though. My parents aren’t really caring about the college degree, they just want me to be happy, however, they’re not happy with the fact that I’m literally putting my life in danger on the road… which ironically is the same as me getting on my motorcycle. It’s scary on how many people that DON’T pay attention on the road.

    Does a degree in computer science help at all? I figure if you were to have a degree in Criminal Justice, you would be able to advance faster and higher and such. But as I stated in my earlier reply, I don’t want to be a drop out. I want to finish school, just I kinda feel like it’s worth putting it off for now. For the vision, the requirements for California is 20/40… not sure what that exactly translate to though. I can see pretty well for the most part. I don’t wear glasses on a normal basis but I do have a pair that helps with my near-sight.

    I want to stay local as much as possible. I live in the bay area, I’m used to this area, I know this area best. Border Patrol just seems tedious imo.

    I’m actually at a community college working on the rest of my GEs because of the budget issues. Furthermore, the fees just for state schools are becoming outrageous. I did say my parents aren’t rich, but we’re not poor either. We’re, in fact, smack right in the middle, the worst class when it comes to grants and other aid. I had a fairly low interest rate of about 5% and it was still outrageous on the actual interest for repayment. I want to avoid this at all cost. Loans are my very very very last option. It’s not even thrown onto the board at this moment.

    Everyone says to finish school first, but I have question, is it even possible to finish school later? I mean, I see people in my class who are 40+ and they’re attending a state school to earn their degree. Is it really that bad? Students can be working 2 part time jobs totaling about 30-40 hours and still manage a 15 unit per semester/quarter workload… is it even remotely possible with a job as an officer and still work on a BS degree?
  15. leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    Agreed. It's your life. Do what you want with it. Don't let anyone else tell you how to live it.
  16. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 6, 2006
    Look into seeing if you can switch to a CJ major. You're taking courses at community college still, so I would be kind of surprised if you couldn't switch to Criminal Justice (it doesn't normally have too many prerequisites, at least at the few schools I've had interactions with).

    Your loan payments wouldn't be terrible, especially if you could live at home and commute to college. Assuming you went to a state school and incurred about $20,000 (and a CSU would be less than this for two years) in loans at 5% that you wanted to pay back over 10 years, your payment would be in the $200 - $300 range, not too bad. A degree could easily help you to make quite a bit more than $200-$300 extra per month, especially in the long run.

    Its certainly possible, but as you get older it gets more difficult. You'll have more responsibilities (ie house payment, car payment, spouse/so, children, etc.) that you can't just put off. The other question is would you be motivated enough to do it? Do you really want to go to school at night after you've put in an 8-10 hour day? When are you going to be motivated to do homework? My personal opinion, and an opinion that has been echoed to me by people who waited to complete their education, is that you should get your bachelors done as early as you can. The older you get, the less motivation and the more responsibilities that get in the way. That is certainly not to say it is impossible, because clearly many people have done it.

    You sound like you're really taking your time and thinking about your decision, which is a good thing. Just be cautious about limiting your options, being young you shouldn't narrow your options too much, as you never really know what you'll want to do in the future.
  17. Nuc macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2003
    Go talk to your advisor. I remember wanting to be a state trooper around my 2nd year of college but I got the best advice from one of my teachers. She said your to smart for that... That gave me something to think about and I eventually agreed with her.

    I'm not saying you should not become one but from the path you have taken so far it appears you're more technically minded. Stick with it! Your core classes will begin in your third year. It will not be easy and you won't regret it in the future. I went on to get my MS in nuclear engineering. I would take a look into it since we are trying to replace the retiring workforce and on the edge of a new era in nuclear power. You can't go wrong with mechanical engineering either since more MEs are hired at nuclear plants. Nuclear power is the best field to be in right now in my opinion. Of course you may have to leave CA since the only plant in CA is San Onofre near San Diego.
  18. allisonv7 macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2004
    I don't think you can really compare a student taking 15 credit hours and working a couple part-time jobs to a full-time career in addition to a college workload. With a full-time job you run into overtime, expectations to cover shifts, if you're salary you'll likely end up having to stay late a few hours every now and then....basically it's more of a commitment to your job and your income, whereas if you're working a couple part time jobs not as much is expected of you.

    When I was in college a few years ago I had a classmate here or there that was a nontraditional student in their 40s. They were mostly there because their kids were high school age or older and they were wanting to either finish their degree because they hadn't previously or because the job market and financial situations left them not much of a choice.

    I like the idea of talking to an advisor, or maybe even a couple teachers. Even if it's not a current teacher of yours, maybe a criminal justice professor....just see what they have to say.

    Choosing to leave school at your age is a huge deal, it's going to be a lot easier for you to leave than it is to start back up again.

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