I sure could use some input from the Teeming Millions…
My parents and I got into an argument about the best educational route my son (13 years old, a Freshman in high school) should take in order to become an FBI Agent. Their preference is for him to go straight to college/university for 3-4 years to get his degree. My preference is for him start off through the military or police department and get an accelerated degree on the side. We both agree that the FBI has a basic entry requirement of a degree and a second language.
Their supporting arguments are (1) the college experience, (2) freedom from military control, (3) freedom to change career path more easily, (4) ability to obtain degree quicker in more focused manner, and (5) the fact that they’ll pay the tuition (or so they say: they have have a spotty record of financial promises).
My supporting arguments are (1) working in a related or direct job while attending college on the side, (2) FBI’s preference to hire people with degree AND real-world related experience or military or quasi-military background (my opinion), (3) good character traits developed in military, like teamwork and self-discipline, (4) up to 100% tuition reimbursable programs, (5) the observation that my son performs better in a discipline environment (he’s in marching band this year, which is quasi-military).
What if he gets part way through this route to the FBI and changes his mind, and wants to become a lawyer or – god forbid – an artist? I mean no disrespect to those who choose the military straight out of high school, but I think college opens a lot more doors. As others have said, he can always get his bachelors and join the military as an officer if he prefers.
Or, let him make up his own mind when he’s 17.
But I’d start saving for a college fund for him, anyways.
In reading the OP I was really struck with the fact that this 13 year old kid has 2 sets of adults debating tactics based on a predetermined goal for his life. In your situation this may or may not be healthy, but I feel it has the potential to be very unhealthy. Does he really, really want to join the FBI? FWIW, at that age I really, really wanted to be a fashion designer. A ton of real life intervened, obviously and thank goodness. If he does want it it, will be great that he has family support that makes people willing to research all kinds of various options, and giving him and you the chance to talk with some real FBI recruiters sounds like a great idea.
Whatever path he takes, he has to own it, so I would focus on helping him make an intelligent decision at 17 or 18 by letting him get as much relevant information, experience and education as possible. Some high schools have junior ROTC, for example. An exchange program could help him experience living overseas and learning the 2nd language. Totally support him in exploring his options but don’t (I hope this isn’t what’s happening) make him live out someone else’s dream.
Everyone has some good input here. I will follow up with the ROTC option; hadn’t thought about that. Having him talk to an FBI recruiter is an excellent idea too. I was hoping there might be some FBI Agents lurking on this board…!
As for how committed he is to this career, he says he’s sure it’s what he wants to do. What could I do to know for sure? Give him aptitude tests? Have him read some books on the subject?
If he’s only 13, I wouldn’t carve anything in stone.
If you live in a large enough city, you might try to have an FBI agent (not a recruiter) sit down and talk to your son. Have the agent discuss what his job is really like and how he got there. That’ll probably be the best way to get him accurate information.
I am training for the FBI physical fitness part of things right now. I’ll be an attorney by May of next year. Your son is really pretty young to start worrying about stuff like that but my advice would be to go through college/university majoring in a foreign language from a dangerous part of the world and then get a law degree and train for the fitness portion.
It has always been my understanding that the FBI hired law students and accountants, however I believe that they have started hiring people with other degrees. I don’t really see what help the military experience would be.
With all due respect, as the father of a 14 year old boy I can’t help but be struck by the sheer absurdity of this question. He should be out skateboarding and being embarrassed by girls, and you’re game planning his entrance into the FBI Academy?
I could possibly understand your position to some limited degree if he was a superlative musical or athletic prodigy where these decisions need to made early, but you’re seriously game planning his future now, for a law enforcement position he may have absolutely no interest in by the time he’s 23?
Step back… one more step… and get some perspective. He’s thirteen! He can’t even apply for the FBI academy until he’s at least 23. If he’s still burning to be an agent at 17 or so, start making plans, until then stop being focused on this.
Other than that just have him be be athletically fit, drug and felony free, and make excellent grades. Being in leadership roles in various organizations would proably also help re preferred college applications. Re best strategies you can look at the list of desired skill sets listed below, and cross reference whether the military or college is going to more effectively get him there. Given the level of and specificity of the skills desired it appears that college may be a better bet overall.
Thirteen is too young to be planning anything. A kid says he wants to be an an FBI agent and your family starts plotting long term strategies? What about next year when he wants to be an astronaut? What are you going to do then? Let the kid grow up and make an informed decision as an adult. Don’t just play to adolescent fantasies.
CIYP it looks like astro may have some good info. to be honest I only gave it the once over (don’t worry though I’ll check it out)
Now understand this is only based on my experience. When I was going to school at SHSU (Sam Houston State U in Huntsville,Tx.) there were quite a few students that I knew with plans to get into law enforcement, especially the FBI. SHSU has/had the best criminal justice/law enforcement dept. in the country. That is according to them the best/quickest way to get there. Get your degree in CJ and specialize in a field…w/ a BS in CJ or better yet get a MS in a special field you’re well on your way. I’m sure there are probably other universities that’ll do the same and I know one girl that had just graduated and was headed to wherever the FBI academy is (good grades help).
As far as preparing your child for college, there’s not a damned thing wrong with starting early. As long as he has a childhood along the way. My son is in the 9th grade now and was in GT classes until jr. high where he went into AP (advance placement) he’s been taking college level courses, is in varsity sports, played baseball and footballball, runs track and has his Eagle Scout Badge, at 14. He’s a licensed ham operator and will be starting on his pilots license when he turns 15. These are all things that he chose to do and he was allowed to stop doing them if that was HIS choice (once he gave it a real effort).
He could’ve skipped some grades but WE decided it would be better for him to grow up with a “normal” childhood and stay with his friends etc.
He’s got a 250K scholarship for a full 4yr. degree w/ the Air Force Academy starting as a 2ndLt. if he wants it He has recently received word from Duke University that they’d love to have him…there are several others that are looking at him as well. He’s decided he wants to be an aerospace engineer and work at NASA. That could change but that’s okay. I taught him algebra in the 3rd & 4th grade, geometry and calculus some trig…all before he was in junior high. Taught him to read music early and bought him several instruments. He was in the school band for a couple of years and can play whatever he picks up.
He never missed anything as a kid and is one of the most popular teens in highschool. He plays the guitar (a lot better than I do now) and is supposedly getting a band started. So he can do anything he wants in life.
I WISH I’d had a some guidance when I was young. The guidance I got was to work my ass off, respect my elders, use your manners, don’t lie, and never ever hit a woman. My dad was “real old school.” I still live by it.
(my son’s got all that…he better)
Plus I taught him Spanish (basics when he was young) he’s got to take it now as a required course but it’s no problem. If you open those pathways when they’re young…the sky isn’t even the limit. There aren’t any from what I’ve seen. It doesn’t take that much effort either IMHO. It just takes a lot of love and patience, discipline without punishment, lots of books and get rid of the TV. (We had one in the den w/ no cable or satellite available ONLY after homework and chores were done.) You’ll find that there’s plenty of time when they don’t spend all of their time in front of the “boob tube”.
I know you probably didn’t need to hear all of this, since it seems like you’ve got things on the right track. A father can brag every now and then though, can’t he?
Hang in there and do the research. Let me know if I can help. Good luck.
D/C Hey buddy I hear ya…but some guys get their shit together quicker than others. (myself included)
So, what did you grow up to be?
I think CIYP is being serious. Preparing your kids for the future doesn’t mean they can’t still have a childhood.
Just because he wants to be ??? now doesn’t mean the things he learns can’t be used somewhere else. Basically right now he needs to make sure his grades are good, he stays out of trouble, doesn’t get into drugs, and is physically fit. That is a good thing whatever he actually does after highschool. Wouldn’t you agree?
Currently I do in-home services for folks with developmental disablities. I’ve also been a cook, a musician, a landscaper and a teacher. I’ve also been trying to write a book for ten years.
But what I really want to do is direct.
I agree that the first step to any career is finishing high school and getting good grades. I also agree that kids can be mature and focused at an early age (I was not one of those kids). But I still don’t think that 13 is a good age to be mapping a career. I’m not even the same person I was at 30 much less 13.
Yeah, I’m a “Jack of all trades” myself. That’s cool about the in-home deal. You just got a little more respect from me bud. As you probably know, my wife had MD and my daughter of course still does and much worse than her mom. She’s not totally confined to her chair but there’s a lot of rehab and always w/ the doctors. Despite all of that and supposedly being learning “disabled”. She really is, if anyone ever was because her particular MD does entail some mental retardation. But despite that, through the heroic efforts that her mom made and with much patience and all of the love and understanding…hundreds of hospital visits, a healthy diet, PT and occTherapy…she is a junior in highschool and has regular classes except NO gym class and special math classes only, she is an honor roll student and has never missed a day of school except for her doctors visits. They said ten years ago that she would be confined to a chair before she was a teen and that her life expectance was her mid 20’s…fuck THEM. I have been the cook at home for the past ten years and EVERYTHING is homecooked and well balanced. She is extremely healthy, all things considered. Her mom was so ff’'ing strong it is unreal buddy. I’d like to tell ya about her one of these days.
My point being…if you are what you say…and I know you ain’t bullshitting me. My hat’s off to you. It takes a special kinda person to do what you do. You are worth your weight in GOLD and I know you ain’t gettin paid THAT much. My mom works with kids that are extremely disabled. I’ve dome a bit of it myself.
You are right. But were not talking about mapping a career, so much as keeping him straight. There’s really nothing he CAN do at this stage except keep his head on straight and be fit, make good grades and look at his options. Oh…he could possible talk with local law enforcement about the “volunteer” program for youths, a reserve type program, even the Boy Scouts if it’s not too late. Those are all good things IMHO.
I’m not bullshitting. I’ve been in the DD field for about four years now (although I did spent a year working in an LD classroom with all kinds of DD kids, including MD, before I left the school system and went into DD full time). I spent two years in a group home and then switched to in-home. I’m not getting rich at it but in-home is really a pretty fun, low-stress job. Hell, all I do is take people out to dinner and movies or other activities like plays and concerts. I see practically every movie that comes out these days for free and I also get out to some things I probably wouldn’t do on my own but end up enjoying anyway (Mozart recitals, for instance). People always tell me they could never do my job but to me it’s just like hanging out with a friend for a few hours. They need some help, sure, but you get so used to it (as you obviously know) that it just becomes second nature after awhile. You don’t even notice it. I can collapse and pack a wheelchair in like three seconds flat. The special needs don’t really slow anything down that much if you know what you’re doing. I like my job a lot. I’ve actually turned down offers for higher paying, administrative jobs in my field because I prefer doing direct care to doing paper work.
No question. That’s the right advice for any kid that age. If he’s really serious about federal law enforcement then he should make an effort to keep a clean record, keep his grades as high as he can and try to learn as much as he can about law enforement. He may find that the FBI is not as fun or glamorous as it sounds on the outside (the vast majority of federal agents work in offices and do not see any action. It’s not going to be like a Tommy Lee Jones movie and there aren’t really any X files).
I think a lot of local police departments have junior programs and ride-alongs for kids. That might be a good option. You’re right about Boy Scouts as well. It might sound cheesy but it can help. I was an Eagle Scout and that has actually helped me in job interviews.