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Mark Rivera

FBI-CJIS Security Policy Compliance Officer

Mark Rivera, Customer Retention Manager and CJIS Security Compliance Officer with Vigilant Solutions, served for sixteen years with the Maryland State Police, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant with thirteen of those years at the supervisory and command level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and Secret clearance through the FBI, Baltimore.

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15 Questions To Ask Before Enrolling In An Online University

Doing your homework before you enroll can make your educational experience more valuable, saving you disappointment and dollars.

December 22, 2011  |  by - Also by this author

6. Are There Additional Fees?

At most schools, there will be additional fees above tuition. Books are covered by tuition at some schools. At others you have to buy them separately. Either way, you will pay for them. Whatever you think books will cost, double it and you'll be in the ballpark. Some schools also charge lab fees, application fees, transfer credit fees, and even diploma fees. Ask about these fees before you sign up.

7. How Will I Pay for This?

Some of you have tuition reimbursement programs at your agency. Consider yourselves blessed. Others will have to float loans from the government. Either way, make sure that your school is eligible for Federal Student Aid under Title IV. If it isn't, then beware. That means the feds don't trust it enough to grant loans to its students.

8. Who Will Be Teaching Me?

One of the great things about the criminal justice and security faculty at online schools is they tend to be former law enforcement professionals, including prosecutors, cops, and judges. The bad thing is that sometimes these folks aren't great teachers. You want to know who will be teaching you, but you also want to know what kind of teacher training they have received. You also want to know if the faculty is full-time or part-time, according to Jim Lee, associate professor of criminal justice at Troy University. "I believe you see more dedication to student achievement from full-time faculty," Lee explains.

9. Are the Class Hours Flexible?

Your schedule is complicated. If you work a special unit like homicide or SWAT, you could be called to work at any time of day. That's why so many officers like the idea of online education. They can complete their course work at any time during the week. But that's not true at all online schools. Make sure that your classes won't meet at a specific time each week. Most have a requirement that you participate in discussion sections say four times a week. You want one that doesn't care if you login at 1 a.m. Sunday or 6 p.m. Tuesday, just as long as you login.

10. Can I Get Credit for My Professional Training?

The short answer is-probably. Most online universities grant limited elective credit for your academy training or special training such as SWAT school. But check before you enroll. Note: They will charge you a fee to process these credits. So ask about that, too.

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