I’ve been studying Criminology here in Long Beach for 9 weeks now so I’m pretty deep into the course. And right now it’s midterms so everyone is super busy with school and I haven’t had as much opportunity to go adventuring (with some exceptions…).
At CSULB, I am a Criminal Justice Major (which is super cool to say!) and the classes I’m taking, as equivalents to Leicester’s Criminology modules this term, are Policing, Corrections and Research Statistics. I’ve personally found it extremely interesting to learn about these topics from an American perspective whilst being able to take a comparative view. It’s been a bit more difficult adjusting to the different referencing format, and having to use Google a lot more than my brain to recall American news and history, but I’m so grateful for the learning opportunities.
If you’re thinking of studying in the USA, I highly recommend using Rate My Professor to get some idea of what each professor is like and whether you’ll be able to adapt to their teaching and assessment techniques. I feel like I scored gold with most of my classes – my Statistics teacher is so entertaining that sometimes I forget I’m sitting in a class with a subject content that isn’t initially particularly stimulating for me.
Corrections is my favourite class at the moment. The professor is a Probation Officer by day and he always has fabulously interesting stories and insights to share with us, and he’s also been known to take students on prison visits (which can score some extra credit)! He also never forgets that I’m English and frequently asks for comparisons ranging from the criminal justice system to the weather! My Policing professor is also a retired Cop and it’s really fascinating to hear first-hand accounts of what working for an American police department is like.
Showing up to classes is important, not just for the obvious reasons, but you don’t want to miss out on extra credit opportunities! In our first lesson, my Statistics professor already had us go home to research something for the next lesson for one point worth of extra credit. And a few weeks ago, she also offered us extra credit if we take part in her research study. My friend in a different Corrections class has also been given the opportunity to write some short papers for extra credit, and if you join the Criminal Justice society, there are a few opportunities if you help out at events. This is all optional, but very helpful if you’re just on the boundary for a particular grade.
Especially as I’m new to learning about the American criminal justice system, the required and recommended textbooks are especially useful (but expensive!). I had a huge shock when I first searched for my 10th edition American Corrections textbook, and found the buying price to be $223.44!! Don’t let that put you off, there are ways around it! A lot of students buy their textbooks in advance, but I survived my first week by buying some in the university bookstore, and returning them once my ordered (and cheaper) textbooks arrived. Most textbooks in the bookstore are expensive, and very, very kindly, one of my suitemates offered that I borrow her scholarship for some books (and of course return her the money once I got the refund), so I do recommend a little bit of prior research instead of relying 100% on the bookstore. Using the sites bigwords.com and textsurf.com, which my suitemates recommended, allows some really easy comparison of the prices of your textbooks, and renting can also be a much cheaper option as well! I’m hoping to sell back some of my books to Amazon and Chegg at the end of the semester, so hopefully I’ll get most of my money back. Maybe I’ll even make a profit, who knows?!
Due to the ‘unit system’ here, I am also required to take a couple more classes to reach the necessary number of units for a full-time student. I chose completely unrelated, but super exciting classes! I’m now taking Surfing (because why not in Southern California?!!) and Self-Defence. I originally chose Rock Climbing, but after learning that most of the class would be theory rather than activity during the orientation session, I dropped this class and tried (successfully) to crash Surfing and Self-Defense classes. My Self-Defense professor recently took us to the Japanese Gardens on campus to help us relax during midterms and taking a class like this is honestly really nice. One of my friends is taking a Stretch and Relaxation class with a similar purpose, so there’s absolutely loads to choose from if you take a look at the Schedule of Classes. 🙂 There should be a bit of information about the Criminal Justice classes too, if you’d like to read more.