Recently, I’ve been considering the prospect of going to law school and becoming a federal prosecutor. Here are the pros and cons I’ve been rolling over in my head over the past week:
- Becoming a lawyer is incredibly challenging, something that can be seen in the way that the words “law school” intimidates some undergraduates. Law students are typically the top of their class, have to work an insane amount of hours, and are stressed beyond belief. Although this may discourage some from pursuing law school, the challenge excites me.
- As a prosecutor, I would still be involved in bringing down criminals, I would just be involved in the latter half of the investigation rather than the beginning.
- Arguing in court seems like a blast. The courtroom had a certain appeal to me when I visited it a couple weeks ago with my PSL class.
- Becoming a lawyer brings with it a tremendous amount of occupational prestige.
- I would be spending my time working in an office rather than out in the world like I would as a law enforcement officer.
- I would be in debt over $100,000 if I attended law school. This would take forever to pay off too; being a federal prosecutor isn’t as well a paying job as other kinds of lawyers.
While I was in high school, I was lucky enough to be afforded the opportunity to go abroad two times; by graduation I had visited the cities of London, Bath, Madrid, Toledo, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Verona, Munich, Nuremberg, and Prague. These two trips were some of the best times of my life, and I swore to myself that I would never stop traveling. In college this can be accomplished through studying abroad, something that also satisfies the “G” of the G.O.A.L.S. Due to my hectic planned academic career, I can’t afford to go abroad for an entire semester like I originally planned coming into OSU. Luckily, after attending a Getting Started Session via the Office of International Affairs, I realized how many other ways there are to study abroad, ways that fit into my schedule. I still have a lot more research and planning to do, but right now the Global May program in either Bolivia or Spain both look really appealing.
These past few weeks have witnessed me working tirelessly to craft a four year schedule projection, and ultimately deciding what topics I feel are most beneficial to my career goals. In the course of my research, I’ve realized that my Criminology major has a requirement for an “Integrated Elective”, which can be satisfied by authoring a Undergraduate Research Thesis. I know that a thesis is extremely stressful, time-consuming, and difficult, but I have never been one to shy away from a challenge. If it wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t be worth doing. Besides, I can find no better way to bring together all that I have done in my classes, thereby proving to myself that I’ve actually learned the material. As for what topic I want to dedicate a year’s worth of my life to, I have absolutely no idea.
As I type out this blog post, fall break is winding down and I can officially say that I am 1/16 done with my academic career in college. These past 7-8 weeks have been a complete whirlwind, filled with both highs and lows. However, I can definitively say that I am truly happy here at Ohio State.
One of the highlights of my college experience so far has been the sheer amount of opportunities and assortment of things to do. From attending a forum on Refugee Law and Politics, to watching a star show in the OSU Planetarium, to playing a pickup game of dodgeball a block down from my dorm, I never have a valid excuse to be bored. More importantly, I’ve found that I truly love my classes. I’ve come to the realization that nothing provides me profound fulfillment like learning does, so what better place is there to be than at a college? I actively look forward to all of my lectures everyday, whether they be about the life and death of stars, societal stratification in Lancaster, or the cultural foundations of the Roman Republic. Of course it helps that all of my professors are brilliant and engaged, and there are no more “joke classes” like I was forced to take in high school.
On the other side of the coin, I’ve found myself to actually be a little homesick, something I was not expecting whatsoever when I arrived. I suppose it’s inevitable, when you leave everything you’ve ever known for something new, but it still hurts nonetheless. I’ve been able to somewhat come to terms with it, thanks to a quote from South Park that reads: “Well yeah, and I’m sad, but at the same time I’m really happy that something could make me feel that sad. It’s like, it makes me feel alive, you know? It makes me feel human. And the only way I could feel this sad now is if I felt somethin’ really good before. So I have to take the bad with the good, so I guess what I’m feelin’ is like a, beautiful sadness”. So I guess the homesickness I feel should be viewed as a good thing, as it shows I lived a great life.
The picture above is the answer sheet from what was my first major midterm in college. It was in Astronomy, and I had spent the previous two weeks studying a little bit every day due to the massive amount of material the class covered. In the end, my hard work payed off as I earned an A, placing me around the fifth best score in my class of over 100 students.
Although I’ve only been here a month, I’ve already noticed how different college is from high school. Unlike high school, there aren’t quizzes every week to make sure you’ve learned the material, no set homework assignments, and no teacher holding your hand. It’s up to you to keep up with the material, as every lecture is based around a different topic and assumes you know what happened the previous week. Although it is a lot harder, I definitely prefer this style of learning. I feel like I have already learned a ton even though it has only been a month, and I like the responsibility of being in charge of my own education.
I’ve also noticed how unlike high school, it isn’t realistic to hope for straight A’s in college. This has hit some of my friends hard as they’ve gotten their first midterms back and have seen a 73 on the paper instead of a 100. I know that this will happen to me too, and that it is only a matter of time. So, I figure that aiming for a certain GPA as an academic goal is futile and my goal should be just to try my hardest. If trying my hardest results in me getting a 4.0 GPA, fantastic. If trying my hardest results in me getting a 3.2, that’s fine as long as I honestly tried my best.
Today, I was finally able to meet with FBI agents after they were a no-show at the Career and Internship Fair a few weeks ago. Here are some of my impressions:
1.) When the FBI says that there really isn’t one set path for employment, they weren’t kidding. I, like presumably most people, would’ve assumed that most FBI agents are former members of Seal Team Six with a Ph.D from Harvard. Not the case at all. One agent had a degree in history and was a preacher for seven years. Another was a naturalized citizen after originally hailing from Korea.
2.) The FBI appears to be an agency that really cares for its employees and all of the agents seem genuinely kind. I guess my preconceptions about their background led me to believe that they were all tough and stoic former military types but that is not the case. The agents there were really approachable and seemed to want us to succeed. They raved how much the FBI helped develop them into better agents and therefore people, and how the Bureau really tried to work with all of its employees in order to help them reach their career goals.
3.) The FBI Honors Internship program is definitely where I want to end up the summer after my sophmore year. The way the agents talked about it, it sounds like a ticket to a future agent position. I just don’t want to apply now because I have my entire life to work for a federal agency, and I feel like starting with a smaller internship (like for the A.G.) will help me gain a broader perspective in the world of law enforcement.
This seemingly insignificant packet of paper that I can’t seem to orient correctly represents a major shift in my college plans; the decision to change my majors from Criminology and Arabic to Criminology and Philosophy. These papers come from the appointment I had with my academic advisor today, where I officially withdrew from my Arabic class, even though it resulted in a “W” on my transcript.
On Monday, I decided to check out the Sociology and Criminology Club, which is a club to support those students in these majors (students like me). The Club brought in a Special Agent from the Ohio Attorney General, and the advice he gave to those in attendance changed my mindset. The Special Agent talked about how after my first entry-level job, no employer really cares what I majored in. He advised us to use our time in college to become a “Renaissance Man”, a person who can think critically, analyze logically, and write well rather than learn “hard” skills that we’ll forget in five years. The whole idea of becoming a “Renaissance Man” struck a chord in me and gave life to an idea that had been brewing in my head for a couple of months. Isn’t becoming a “Renaissance Man” the entire reason I should be in college in the first place? Isn’t this what all the federal agencies seek out in their hires? Aren’t these the skills that will significantly enrich my life, both in my career and outside of it?
After a few hours of turning these ideas over in my head, I realized that the Special Agent was completely spot-on. Arabic is a challenging language to learn, and if I truly want to achieve fluency I need to major in it. But, I’d rather become a “Renaissance Man”, and an entire subject is dedicated to imparting it’s students with these skills. That subject is my new second major.
G. Study abroad, whether that be for a summer or a semester. Studying in Jordan ideally, where I can practice MSA and the Levantine dialect
O. Excelling in the Methods in Criminology required course. Participating in research if time allows
A. Trying my hardest in all of my courses. Taking challenging courses even if it means not having a perfect transcript
L. Becoming the President of a student organization
S. Volunteering on a regular basis. Finding a cause I am passionate about by graduation
When I woke up this morning, I did not plan on attending this year’s Career and Internship Fair in the Ohio Union. In my eyes it was an event for seniors, certainly not for a first semester freshman like me, one who had never even begun to think about putting a resume together. But this morning included a PSL trip to the Ohio Supreme Court, and as I came back to campus already in a suit and with my afternoon open, I figured that I’d give it a shot. Overall I’m glad that I attended, and here are a few quick reflections about the nearly two hours I spent there:
1.) For the better part of the past year, my dream has been to work as a Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigations. However, this afternoon I found myself at the booth for the Drug Enforcement Administration where the recruiter made a very convincing pitch. Both careers are very similar, but the focus for DEA Agents is a lot more narrow. I may never work a bank robbery or deal with white collar crime, but is that offset by the fact that I get to spend my life fighting against the drug cartels, who I view as the most despicable organizations in the world? What career can result in me making a more significant difference?
2.) I’ve started to come to the decision that this summer I don’t want to work as an ocean lifeguard as planned, but rather try and do something related to my education / career goals. This isn’t because I want a jumpstart on the rat-race, but rather that the two fields I am studying (Arabic and Criminology) really do fascinate and excite me, and I want to get started right away. If that’s an internship for the FBI, DEA, NSA, the Columbus Police Department, or something else entirely remains to be seen.
3.) When I talked to the NSA recruiter, she introduced me to a language immersion program at Middlebury College in Vermont over the summer. I would sign a pledge to not speak English for three months, instead opting to live and learn in full Arabic. Since every resource on the internet spouts that the best way to achieve fluency in a language is through immersion, wouldn’t this be an incredible step towards achieving that goal, as well as being an amazing experience? I’ll definitely do my research.
Ethan Weiland is a first year student at The Ohio State University, pursuing a dual major in Criminology and Philosophy. In addition, he is a Politics, Society, and Law Scholar. After college, Ethan plans to join the military and then pursue his dream of working for the DEA.
Originally from New England, Ethan Weiland graduated from Shepherd Hill Regional High School in Dudley, Massachusetts in the spring of 2017. He excelled academically in high school, finishing in the top 5% of his class with a 4.16 GPA. Outside of the classroom, Ethan was a three-sport varsity athlete (cross country, indoor track, outdoor track) and helped lead the cross country team to its first ever All State Meet during his senior year. While in high school, Ethan traveled abroad with the foreign language club twice and attended the prestigious Boys State program at the conclusion of his junior year.
In his free time, Ethan loves to read anything he can get his hands on, listen to alternative music, workout, and watch soccer. He highly values virtue, ambition, intelligence, and adventure.