Applying to School

You have narrowed down your list of criminal justice programs and are ready to begin the application process. It is time to fill out forms, send away for transcripts, gather letters of recommendation, and finish taking standardized tests. Each school has its own application deadline. Apply as early as possible. Schools start reviewing applications as soon as they are received. If you wait until the last minute to apply, the available spots may have already been filled.

It is important to apply to several different schools. Unfortunately, you may not be accepted into your first choice. You need a few backups. Do not get discouraged if your first choice doesn't accept you. This has happened to plenty of people, but their career dreams did not die. They went to their second or third choice schools and ended up landing quality criminal justice jobs.

Here are the most common application steps and requirements for schools across the country.

1.Application Form - Every school will require you to fill out some sort of form. This is the easiest part of the application process, but one that many applicants do incorrectly. Take the time to completely fill out the form. Do not gloss over the academic honors and awards section. This section may help your chances of being accepted.

2.Transcripts - You will be required to prove that you have graduated from high school to attend an associate's or bachelor's degree program or have graduated from an undergraduate program if you are looking to earn an advanced degree. High schools and colleges are swamped with transcript requests right before application deadlines. Give yourself plenty of time to round up this information.

3.Standardized Test Scores- Schools require score reports from standardized test companies. When you took the ACT, SAT, GMAT, or GRE, you may have checked the box to send your scores to specific schools. If not, you will need to contact the testing company to have your test score reports sent to your desired schools. Do not wait until the last minute to request these reports. These companies often require a few weeks' advance notice to send out these reports.

4.Letters of Recommendation - A letter of recommendation tells a school why you would be a perfect fit for its program. You may choose who you want to write your letter; however, your grandmother, parent, or best friends are not the people that should write these types of letters. Try to find a former boss or a teacher to write these letters. Ask them to address your initiative and determination to succeed. While not all schools require letters of recommendation, most do.

5. Personal Statements - Some schools will ask you to provide a personal statement as to why you want to attend the school. Avoid general or generic statements. Think about your career goals and the courses that the school offers. Then, craft a statement filled with specifics showing how their program will help you meet your goals of working in the criminal justice field.

Once you apply, the college will review your credentials. Do not stand by your mailbox waiting for an immediate reply. It can take schools a few months to give you the good news that you have been accepted.

Last Updated: 04/29/2014