An Interview with Angel Joiner
“I don’t think that studying online will affect my job prospects. I only took some of my classes online in my associates degree program for criminal justice, but I think that the courses were as comprehensive as my in-person classes.”
Angel Joiner is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice at Oconee Fall Line Technical College in Dublin, Georgia. She is taking some of her coursework online and attending some classes on campus.
Angel decided to pursue an associates degree in criminal justice in order to gain an understanding of the system that works to discipline and education juvenile offenders. She looks forward to pursuing a bachelors degree in criminal justice and finding a job working with at-risk youth.
In your own words, what is criminal justice?
Criminal justice is a field that studies why people commit crimes and tries to develop theories to understand why certain crimes are committed at certain times. Criminal justice is a broad field that can lead to a variety of different positions that either help to prosecute or rehabilitate criminals.
Why did you choose to get an associates degree in criminal justice online?
I decided to get an associates degree in criminal justice at Ogeechee Technical College because I want to work with troubled teenagers. At first I thought I would do youth ministry, but it made more sense for my long-term goals to enter a degree program in a field that would let me start a career.
What do you find most and least enjoyable about studying criminal justice?
I have enjoyed my classes in criminology while I have been in my associates degree program. Criminology classes introduce you to the field and teach ways of assessing people’s behavior and motivations. I also enjoyed my class in juvenile crime, which examined why youths commit crimes and what preventative programs can keep them from offending.
On the other hand, I didn’t enjoy my ethics class very much. I found it to be confusing and I didn’t agree with many of the concepts and ideas that we discussed in class.
When you first considered studying criminal justice online what were your expectations?
When I first thought about studying criminal justice online, I thought that my coursework would include a lot of classes on law and the legal system. I thought that I would be learning details about individual laws and legal codes. Since I have been in the program, I have learned some broad legal concepts, but otherwise my coursework doesn’t have an emphasis on law.
What kinds of classes have you taken in your criminal justice program?
In my criminal justice associates program at Ogeechee Technical College, I have taken several classes, including an introductory course in criminal justice and a juvenile justice class. My associates program includes a semester-long internship toward the end of the program. For the internship, my school will place me at an organization or facility that matches with my interests.
Which of these classes do you think will be most valuable for your future goals?
I think that my introduction to criminology and juvenile justice classes will be the most valuable to me. Since my goal is to work with at-risk youth who may have committed crimes, these classes are teaching me about the kinds of kids I will work with and providing insight so that I will be able to support and mentor them.
What classes do you feel will be least useful?
I found my ethics class to be the least useful class that I have taken. I didn’t particularly enjoy the class, and I don’t think that I will use any of the concepts that we covered in the class when I begin a job.
What resources do you use to help you succeed in your studies?
Ogeechee Technical College offers a tutoring center for students who need help with their homework. I haven’t used the tutoring center because I usually find books at the library and use resources online when I have questions about my coursework.
My school also offers a writing center where I can bring my papers and get help with the writing and revision process. The writing center offers online help as well, and since I take some of my classes online it is convenient to have access to this resource from home.
Have you done an internship in your field?
I haven’t done an internship in my field yet, but my associates degree program in criminal justice does require students to complete an internship before they graduate. I plan on doing my internship at a juvenile detention center since I am interested in working with youth in the future.
While I am at the center, I will spend most of my time observing the interactions between youth and their probation officers and other staff. I will also help with some of the paperwork so that I can get a better understanding of what the day-to-day procedures are like in this field.
How do you interact with your professors?
In my online classes, I interact with my instructors through e-mail. I have also called some of them if I am confused about an assignment, or they will call me if they want to explain something more thoroughly than they can in an e-mail.
My online classes also use a message board system that lets students post comments and questions to the whole class. The instructor can respond and everyone can see the answer, so asking questions helps everyone learn.
Are you able to interact with your peers while studying online?
I haven’t been able to interact with my peers online. Personally, I need to meet people face to face in order to make a connection with them, so it isn’t really possible for me to form friendships with my online classmates.
What personality traits do you think would help a student to succeed in a criminal justice program and what traits would hinder success?
To succeed in a criminal justice program, you should be talkative and eager to meet new people. You will be able to learn faster if you aren’t afraid of talking with your classmates and asking them questions. It follows that being shy could hold you back from being successful in a criminal justice program, or any educational program.
What is your weekly schedule?
My weekly schedule varies because of my other commitments, but I generally spend about 5 to 7 hours each week attending classes both in person and online. I try to study just before or just after I attend class. In addition to this time, I spend 2 or 3 hours each week completing my homework.
I have found that I am able to have quite a bit of free time while I am enrolled in my associates degree program and still finish my work on time.
How do you manage your course load? What study tips would you give to a prospective student?
My advice for other students would be to set aside days and times to work on the assignments for each class, if you are taking multiple classes at a time. It can get confusing to do homework for 4 or 5 different classes at the same time, and you will probably work more efficiently if you are able to focus on 1 subject in a given day.
What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to find a job working with juveniles who have committed crimes either at a juvenile detention center or at a private facility that works with juveniles.
I also hope to continue in a bachelors degree program in criminal justice, and I might consider doing this after I get some work experience in the field.
Do you think the fact that you studied online will affect your job prospects?
I don’t think that studying online will affect my job prospects. I only took some of my classes online in my associates degree program for criminal justice, but I think that the courses were as comprehensive as my in-person classes.
Now that you have completed 2 years of your criminal justice program, if you could go back to high school, what would you do differently?
If I could go back to high school, I would take more classes in social studies and American government. I think that these subjects would have helped me be more prepared and have a better foundation for my coursework in criminal justice.
If you were to redo the past 2 years of college, what would you do differently?
If I did my 2 years of college over again, I would spend more time on my papers. I have tended to breeze through my writing assignments and have tried to just get them done as quickly as possible. I think that my writing has improved, but it would have improved even more if I had taken more time to go through the writing process.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in studying criminal justice online?
My advice for other students who are interested in studying criminal justice is to pay attention to what jobs are available in the field once you begin your program. This will help you to figure out what you are interested in and will help you to think about how your coursework will practically apply to a job after you graduate.