Criminal justice careers aren’t as glamorous as they look on TV. In real life, crimes go unsolved, operations get botched, and there’s more paper getting pushed around than perps.

But sometimes the puzzle pieces fall perfectly into place and the outcome is even more exciting than an episode of “CSI” – like the recent bin Laden raid.

If watching the news these days makes you want to jump into the field of justice, you’re in luck. The successful operation in Pakistan and the years of hard work leading up to it reveal clues about what you need to succeed in a criminal justice career.

Patience. On TV, the cops get the bad guys and justice is served. Mission accomplished. In real life… not so much. Think about all the people involved in the hunt for bin Laden – the NSA, the CIA, the DOD, etc., etc. From intelligence officers to military strategists to ground combatants, this mission took more of a toll than anyone thought possible. Ten years is a long time to wait for justice to be served.

Critical thinking. Which brings us to an essential question, particularly if you’re considering a criminal justice career: What is justice? No, it’s not a trick question – and there’s no easy answer. A great deal of criminal justice work requires that you analyze a variety of scenarios and solutions, since dealing with naturally unpredictable human beings is not a black-and-white affair. While many Americans are celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden, for example, a friend of mine who works as a New York City police officer for counterterrorism doesn’t see the killing of bin Laden as a good thing, given the prospect of an al Qaeda retaliation. In real life, killing the bad guy doesn’t necessarily solve all the problems. How will you handle that reality?

Perseverance. In just about any career, you’ve got to start at the bottom, and criminal justice is no exception. So if you’ve got your heart set on becoming a detective or working undercover, plan on spending some time as a patrol officer first. You’ll need law enforcement experience as well as a degree in criminal justice or a related field if you want to advance to the coveted professions, particularly those at the federal level. I guarantee that those behind the final bin Laden operation were not rookies.

Technological know-how. As InformationWeek editor John Foley put it, “A bullet killed Osama bin Laden, but U.S. intelligence is what did him in.” You need to know your way around a computer in just about any criminal justice career, and the techie stakes are especially high when you’re working in intelligence or counterterrorism. New surveillance technologies and IT architectures facilitate information sharing, and you’ve got to be savvy enough to utilize the technology effectively. When you enroll in a criminal justice degree program, you can get hands-on training with relevant technology to help you stay competitive in the field.

If you’re just getting started in a criminal justice career, chances are you won’t be involved in such a high-profile operation as the Osama bin Laden mission. Still, you can be a pivotal player in safeguarding the freedom of your community and your country. Do you have what it takes to succeed in a criminal justice career?

-Robyn Tellefsen

College commencement speeches are in full force this month. Some will inspire, some will create controversy, and some will put people to sleep. Boring or otherwise, there are some men and women who should NEVER be invited to a college to speak to graduates — though we had fun imagining what they would say and where they might say it, anyway. Take a look at some of these graduation speeches that will only happen when pigs fly…

Antoine Dodson, Urban Hero and YouTube Star

Princeton University
“Don’t hide your intelligence. Don’t hide your determination. Don’t hide your resume. Otherwise, those employers will never find you. Run and tell that, homeboys and homegirls.”

Any of the “Mob Wives” on VH-1

John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)
“I don’t really believe what my husband did was a ‘crime,’ you know, but whatever. Do what ya gotta do for your career.”

Sarah Palin, Former Alaskan Governor

Hampshire College, one of the most liberal campuses in the U.S.
“Graduates are like mavericks going out into the world. And it’s a maverick’s right to own a gun, whether for shooting a moose or scaring away the Democrats and the liberal media.”

Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, Star of “Jersey Shore”

West Point (U.S. Military Academy)
“Yeah, I got some tips for you when you find yourself in the ‘situation’ room.”

Joe Francis, Creator of Girls Gone Wild Series

Wellesley College, known for graduating strong, accomplished women
“You’ve graduated! Who wants to go blow off some steam?”

Paris Hilton, Hotel Heiress

Johnson & Wales University, noted for its hotel and hospitality program
“If you want to be successful in the hotel industry, it totally helps to have my last name.”

Lady Gaga, Pop Music Superstar and Champion of Gay Rights

New York Theological Seminary
“Jesus loves all of us, little monsters.”

Bernie Madoff, Disgraced Investment Banker

Wharton School of Business
“Learn from my mistakes. That way, you won’t get caught in your own Ponzi scheme.”

Any of the “Real Housewives” from Bravo

City University of New York (CUNY), home of the Feminist Press
“What’s wrong with being a housewife, anyway?”

Montana Fishburne, porn star wannabe and daughter of actor Lawrence Fishburne

Yale School of Drama
“Patience and hard work are good, but there are other options if you want to become famous more quickly…”

Hugh Hefner, Creator of the Playboy Enterprise

Brigham Young University, known for its “chaste and virtuous” student honor code
“It’s so refreshing to look out at all of you good, wholesome men and women.”

Kourtney Kardashian, Reality TV Star, Noted for the Easy On-camera Birth of Her Son

Harvard University, School of Medicine
“As you will learn, giving birth is sooooo easy—you literally just reach down and pull that baby out.”

Barry Bonds, Former Baseball Player, Disgraced by Steroid Scandal

Kingdom College of Natural Health
“I admire you. I could have taken the natural health route, but I got lazy.

Alexandra Wallace, YouTube star infamous for racist rant against Asians

University of Hawaii at Manoa (44% of the population is Asian)
“Thanks to YouTube, I now understand diversity is our strength.”

Charlie Sheen, “Vatican Assassin” and Former TV Star

University of California, Los Angeles
“So you’ve got a college degree. Duh, winning! It’s not tiger blood, but it’ll do.”

~Barbara Bellesi

(Photos by PR Photos)

File Under: pop culture


The biggest factor in how much your nursing degree will cost is which education path you pursue: a three-year diploma program, two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN) program, or four-year bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) program.

Two-year colleges might charge about $75 per nursing credit, while private universities might charge up to $500 per credit. For a four-year program, the difference between public school nursing tuition and private school nursing tuition can be as much as $75,000.

So consider your nursing education path carefully: An ADN or diploma will be less expensive nursing degree option, but they may not afford the same opportunities for advancement and specialization that can be gained with a BSN. On the other hand, you can always start working with a diploma or an ADN and later take advantage of tuition assistance to cover the costs of an RN-to-BSN program.

Additional Nursing Degree Costs
Aside from nursing tuition, when it comes to figuring out how much your nursing degree will cost, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of books, uniforms, nursing supplies, lab fees, and any other administrative fees into your education budget.

Medical textbooks may cost between $1,000 to $3,000, which is higher than the cost of books in many other disciplines. Uniforms and work shoes typically cost between $150 and $300. Lab fees for nursing school (about $1,700 per term) are often higher than they are for other programs because of the cost of specialized supplies and equipment. And be sure to inquire about any additional registration, acceptance, or enrollment fees for nursing school, which can range from $75 to $600. Depending on the school, these fees may be credited toward your nursing tuition.

Financial Assistance for a Nursing Degree
If these numbers sound steep, rest assured that a wide range of nursing financial assistance is available. Some RNs choose to work for hospitals or long-term care facilities that will reimburse some or all of their nursing tuition. In exchange, the RN must work for the organization for a predetermined period of time, sometimes only six months.

Plus, a variety of nursing scholarships are available for students who plan to practice in a particular specialty (e.g., critical care, neonatal). Check with the professional associations for your specialty to find out if they offer nursing scholarships. Nursing scholarships are also available for male students, students of various nationalities, residents of certain states, and many more.

If you do have to take out loans to fund your education, don’t worry about drowning in debt. Not only can you recover that money with your future salary, you may also be eligible for nursing loan forgiveness. The Nurse Education Loan Repayment Program (NELRP), an $8 million government-sponsored program, will repay 60 percent of the nursing loan balance for 100 RNs. If you win this award, you must work full time for two years at a critical shortage facility. You may even be eligible to work a third year and receive an additional 25 percent off your nursing loan balance.

Nursing degree costs may be high, but once you begin your career, you’ll discover that the investment you made was exceedingly worthwhile.

Dig Into These Green Careers

Robyn Tellefsen | May 11, 2011

green jobs in green career fields

Don’t you love when spring is in full bloom? The sun shines a little brighter, the grass grows a little greener, and our time enjoying the beautiful outdoors lasts a lot longer. This season, why not celebrate your love for our land by digging into a green career? Take a look at these up-and-coming eco-friendly careers, and get inspired. [Read More]