Sunday, June 24, 2012

Luck Favors the Prepared

Like I discussed in my last post in regards to PT, you do not want to wait until you start the first day of the academy to start studying and learning. There are areas you can study and become as much as an expert at as possible while you're preparing.

I don't mean you should get a hold of all of the Learning Domain workbooks and start cramming. You're not going to be able to become an expert on subjects covered in over 40 books in the amount of time you have. These are best studied with your classmates and the instructors teaching them. But what about radio codes? Get a hold of the list of radio codes from your sponsoring agency and start memorizing! If you are a non-affiliate, you should be able to obtain a list of radio codes from the academy you will be attending. If not, be resourceful. Talk to past recruits who attended that academy and see if they can help you get the material. Academies administer radio code quizzes toward the beginning of the academy. If you know them word for word before day one, you will have more time to dedicate to studying other material because you have the radio codes nailed.

What else can you do? Go get your boots and learn how to spit shine! When I started the academy, I had no idea what the standard for boot shining was. I had never been taught how to spit shine and really didn't know how they were supposed to look. It's more of a skill than you think. Learning on the fly can cause extra stress during the academy. Spend the hours learning how to perfect the spit shine now instead of on the nights you could be studying. Avoid getting yelled at by your R.T.O. and make yourself an asset to the rest of your classmates who don't know how.

Learn how to properly press a uniform. Jump on YouTube or hit up your military buddies to start learning the basics of drill. Take a writing class if you're weak in that area. Study grammar! Report writing class will not have time to fix your writing deficiencies. They are supposed to concentrate on teaching you how to write police reports, not helping you play catch up because you didn't pay attention to grammar rules in elementary school.

Get your life in order. You will not, or at least you should not, have the time to take care of major car or home repairs, move to a new apartment, deal with finance issues, have that surgery you've been putting off, the list can go on and on. When you start the academy and have the goal of excellence in mind and not just getting through to graduation, you don't want to have extra stressors in your life that don't need to be there. Some things you just don't have control of, but square away the things you can take care of now.

If you already have been offered a job with an agency or you know which agencies you're going to apply with, start doing ride-alongs with them. This gives you some great exposure to the job and you have the opportunity to pick the brain of an officer or deputy who possibly attended the academy you will be going to. Just keep in mind that academies change. A 25-year veteran can give you invaluable advice about the career, but likely has no idea how to prepare for the academy you're getting ready for. Even those who attended just a few years ago may not be familiar with the most recent changes at their alma mater. So get some good advice, but be ready to make adjustments if things have changed.

Luck favors the prepared. If you have the time now, but choose to put it all off until you have to, you're starting a pattern that will follow you for the rest of your life until you change. Why not make that change now and start a pattern of always being on top of things for the rest of your life?

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