Applying To Justice and Security School
Applying to programs in justice and security can be quite different depending on where you are applying. For instance, requirements may differ if the institution you are applying to is private or public, secular or faith-affiliated, 4-year or 2-year, and whether you are applying to a school using the Common Application or not.
In terms of your application, many universities and colleges in the United States require you to apply to the institution in general rather than to specific departments or programs. Generally, when applying to the institution, you list your intended major as your first choice. This does not mean you will get your first choice, so make sure you indicate several other options that you actually would like to take. Universities and colleges differ in their competitiveness, but each one usually has a rough threshold below which admission is unlikely. Therefore, students often apply to a range of schools. In addition, the major you apply to may have its own minimum grade threshold as part of the Department, College or School in which it's offered. For example, a College of Criminal Justice may require an overall average of anywhere between 80-90%, depending on the specific program.
Admission requirements can vary greatly depending on the size and values of the college. Some stick to formulaic and objective criteria, while others consider more subjective factors regarding a student's "fit" for the institution. At the latter schools, an interview is often part of the process. In general, though, students are assessed according to the following: overall academic grades and GPA, grades related to their intended major, core grade point average (English, academic math, laboratory science, foreign language, speech), class rank, SAT or ACT score, personal statement, personal background and experiences, and information provided by the high school counselor or other references (such as a pastor, in the case of Christian schools). Different institutions will give different weight to these criteria, for example some colleges do not require or even accept the SAT for admission. As well there may be specific course requirements. For instance, that you have taken four years of English, three years of mathematics (including algebra I and II, geometry and trigonometry), two years of social studies, and one year each of natural and physical sciences. Institutions offering both 4- and 2-year degree programs may have different requirements for each type of degree (for instance, different minimum averages and required SAT scores).
In some cases, preference may be given to students from the institution's state, and some states require proof of immunization against certain vaccine-preventable diseases. Most, if not all, programs in the field of justice and security also require that you not have a criminal record.
University and college semesters normally start in August or September for fall term and January for the winter term, and the application process itself usually begins in your senior year of high school. Generally this process involves submitting an online or print application form directly to the university or college by a specific deadline. Some require that you register on the school's portal in order to apply online for undergraduate admission, financial aid, scholarships and to check the status of your application.
Universities and colleges in the US usually have their own application forms, with the exception of institutions that use the Common Application. The Common Application can only be used to apply to member institutions (about 345 total in the United States) which have agreed to use it. In the Common Application process, copies of online or print Application for Undergraduate Admission can be sent to any number of participating institutions. The same is true of the other required forms, which allows you to spend less time on applying for admission. Each member institution has a specific deadline for when they will accept the Common Application, and once a deadline has passed, you will no longer be able to submit your forms. Many schools have supplements to the Common Application, so make sure you check with the individual college to make sure you know what's expected.
In both types of application you need to have your official high school transcripts sent directly to the institution from your high school, and you should be prepared to pay a non-refundable application fee of about $20-$100. Some schools will waive this fee if you use the online Common Application. Application deadlines are generally between November and January, and there may be specific deadlines for submitting your SAT score for scholarship consideration. If you have a record of scholastic excellence in your first 3 years of high school, then you may qualify for early enrollment. This involves getting a recommendation from your principal, approval from your parents as well as scores on academic tests.
Many institutions have also implemented a system through which students can apply at a time other than the most common deadline: this system is called the Early Decision program. This program permits you to apply a few months early with the commitment to attend the school if offered admission in mid-December. Early Decision does mean less choice, but it also means you only have to submit one application--if you get into your top choice. You can only back out of Early Decision's binding agreement if the financial aid offered is not enough. Similarly, the Early Action program means you apply early and find out the results early, but you are not bound to the school if accepted. Within Early Action there are the single- and multi-choice subprograms: single-choice early action schools only allow you to apply early to one school while multi-choice early action schools let you to apply to many schools. Further, rolling admission is used by some institutions with a large number of applicants or universities and colleges that want to be as inclusive as possible. It means you can apply any time between the fall and spring and get your result a few weeks later. You therefore don't have to apply to all of your schools at the same time, but be aware: it means earlier applicants get first acceptance. So apply as soon as possible to any rolling admissions colleges.
Applying to justice and security programs at community or career colleges can be different again. Academically, a grade 12 diploma or its recognized equivalent is generally required for admission into 2-year colleges. However, some institutions strive to be as inclusive as possible with an open admissions policy in which students are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, which means no particular GPA is required. The required documents can include any of those listed above, and a criminal record check may be part of the process. While Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) may be offered, do not assume that any military training will count toward justice and security programs--be sure to ask at the specific institution.
No matter where or which way you apply, two things that are not required but highly recommended are a campus visit and interview with admissions counselor. Knowledge is power, so be sure to seek out the people and resources that can help you get as much information on your desired universities and colleges for justice and security programs before you apply.
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