is it better to have a head start?

<p>I want to major in an foreign language/area studies: either Russian or the Middle East (language: Arabic or Hebrew). I'd rather go for Middle Eastern Studies, but my dad is trying to get a job at a local university (Pitt) so that I can go there for free. Don't get me wrong, I love Pitt. I grew up dreaming of going there, but my only problem is is there is not Middle Eastern Studies major, or anything related to the ME. </p>

<p>I have a background in Spanish (I'm not hispanic, though). So if I do end up going to Pitt, would it be better for me to major in Spanish, or Russian (of which I know two words). Would it be better for me to major in something I already have a head start in, or would it be okay to start with a clean slate??</p>

<p>Sorry for the rambling lol.</p>

<p>It all depends on what you want to do with the degree.</p>

<p>For 99% of jobs, the only thing employers will care about is if you aer fluent in a language (that they need).</p>

<p>The rest of the curriculum doesn't really matter much.</p>

<p>I'm between two careers right now, and it's constantly changing :) I'm hoping that I will find out exactly what I want to do when I get to college and have many more opportunities open to me.</p>

<p>Is it easy to start from scratch in this type of major, or to (in my case) stick with what I know?</p>

<p>Regarding Middle Eastern Studies at Pitt...</p>

<p>Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu are offered in the Linguistics Dept. Center for Less-commonly Taught Languages. I think only 2 years of Arabic are offered. Hebrew is taught in the Jewish Studies program. </p>

<p>There are a fair number of courses dealing with Israel, but relatively few on the Mideast as a whole. Pretty much, a couple of political science courses, no history courses. </p>

<p>Here are some ideas....
So, it depends on your particular interests in the Middle East. Option 1: You could hope that they enhance their Mideast course offerings, take 2 years of Arabic, and spend a 3rd year in an Arabic-speaking country. But you'd have to major in a traditional discipline, such as Political Science or International Studies. Option 2: If the interest is there, you also could focus on Eastern Europe, take a S. Slavic language, take some Turkish courses, maybe Russian---eventually focus on the Balkans or Caucasus area, both of which have Muslim populations. Study abroad in Turkey or a Balkan country. Option 3: You also could take Arabic courses as well as African Studies courses and approach things from that perspective (Horn of Africa, etc.), etc. Option 4: Jewish Studies (you can study Hebrew as well as Arabic)---focus on Isreal or Israeli/Arab relations. Option 5: You could do Russian but also take some courses in Persian--Russian/Iranian relations is a significant topic for Middle Eastern studies.</p>

<p>Does Pitt allow cross-registration at other schools in the area? That might provide some additional courses.</p>

<p>Option 6: You also could see if there are any scholarships at schools offering the Arabic Flagship Programs. The</a> Language Flagship - Arabic</p>

<p>I don't know what your language learning skills are...any of these languages are difficult, and the difficulty increases if you try to do more than one. Due to their difficulty, the sooner you start the better. Again, a lot depends on what you hope to do with your studies or what disciplines interest you----government service? grad school? journalism? business?</p>

<p>Clearly, you don't have some of the options that you'd have if Pitt had a Middle Eastern Studies program, but you can approach it from some interesting perspectives nonetheless. I can certainly understand your Dad's concern about getting a tuition waiver as even public universities are quite expensive these days for many people.</p>

<p>Another option is to continue with Spanish but take some Arabic courses. Spain has a fairly large Muslim immigrant population, primarily from N. Africa. Pitt has some focus on the European Union. Immigration and integration of people from N. Africa is a significant issue for many West European countries. Another European Union issue is the question of whether to admit Turkey to the European Union. Several West European countries are have significant numbers of Turkish immigrants.</p>

<p>Before do any of this, you need to figure out where you want the degree to take you.</p>

<p>Because if you don't have a plan, you could be throwing alot of money down a hole. You'd be much better off majoring in something that can help you get a job, and minor in one of these other cultural disciplines.</p>

<p>Job prospects with these degrees will be slim, especially for a youngster starting off. I work as an analyst (security, crime) and I don't know any co-workers who majored in this sort of stuff, and my career is typically one very desired by IR/Poli/International Studies students.</p>

<p>If you want to work for the State Department (which is common, so look through these threads), you don't need that sort of degree, either.</p>

<p>Actually, there are language flagship programs in Russian and in Person, too. You might check the sponsoring schools to see if there is financial support for admitted students. The</a> Language Flagship - * Welcome *</p>

<p>Learning these languages to proficiency takes several years of committed study. You could focus on the languages as an adjunct to some other field; you don't necessarily have to major in a particular language. As BIGeast mentioned, you should have a plan. You may not be able to map out all the features of the plan and plans may change, but you should know the general direction you want to head. I don't know your level of commitment or your academic background, but you'll be competition for positions is against top students with equal or better qualifications. There are too many wannabee ambassadors on CC, majoring in IR and related areas, who are clueless about what is actually required. Having said that, if you are committed and you're a good student, go for it.</p>

<p>To be honest, my line of thinking right now is that I want to go to college for this, and then become a police officer for a few years to get law enforcement experience. After that, I want to work within the federal government, either in a law enforcement agency or as 9for example) a foreign service officer.</p>

<p>Even if I don't need this specific type of major for this line of work, like you said, BigEastBeast, I could still use the fact that I'll be close to fluent in a language.</p>

<p>@zapfino: thank you for the links! I'm also looking into Maryland (College Park) and MSU for undergrad, but yeah, all the colleges are getting more expensive than in the past.</p>

<p>Ok, if you want to become a police officer, it doesn't matter your major you have, they just require a degree. But what if you can't become a cop? Or what if you change your mind?</p>

<p>A language is a great skill to have when applying to federal agencies, but as you said, "being close to fluent" won't help at all. You will need to be fluent, much as a native speaker, and pass a serious of very comprehensive exams to prove it.</p>

<p>If you work as a cop for awhile, how will you keep up your language skills? Language skills DO break down, in much less time than you'd think, especially when you've only studied it for a few years.</p>

<p>Food for thought, so just take it for what it's worth, I'm just afraid you haven't though things through.</p>

<p>If you really want to use language skills, join the military as an linguist, intelligence, Special Forces, or Civil Affairs. Since you want to be a cop, this is a good blend of both worlds, plus it will really help you when going for federal jobs. Those 10 extra vet points help, plus FLEO agencies LOVE former military officers.</p>

<p>I know that majors don't matter for cops. Like I said, I plan on becoming a police officer so that I get law enforcement experience (and because I've always wanted to!). If I like being a cop and if I decide to settle into that life, then so be it. I want to volunteer in the Peace Corps sometime in my life, preferably after I retire from my career.</p>

<p>As I understand it, and as my teachers have told me, fluency/native speaking is ranked at the very top of the (figurative) pyramid. For federal agencies (my info here is coming from the FBI, it might be different for others), you must pass the Defense Language Proficiency Test (listening and reading), and demonstrate a proficiency of 3+ on the Speaking Proficiency Test. And that's only if you go under the Critical Languages section. If you apply as under another skills section, you only need to pass the listening of the DLPT, and get a 2+ on the SPT in a critical foreign language (of which, Arabic, Russian and Spanish all qualify). (This second option is what I would probably enter under, as I could also apply as having law enforcement experience. This is definitely not fluency: having only a passing on listening for the DLPT and a 2+ on the SPT.)</p>

<p>I can keep up my language skills easily. My top choice for a PD is the NYPD, and NYC is one of the cultural capitals of the US. I have seen components of all three languages I have mentioned throughout this thread in NYC, and I <em>do</em> know how to read/watch movies/write, etc. Two of my best friends have kept up their language skills after moving to America by doing this. </p>

<p>I cannot join the military due to my having respiratory issues after my 12th birthday, which, when anyone researches the military as a career option, realizes that this is one of the first disqualifiers for officers and enlisted personnel. (Without a waiver.)</p>

<p>When I mentioned before that I have two careers in mind, it was between becoming a police officer and joining a federal agency. When I said "I'm hoping that I will find out exactly what I want to do when I get to college and have many more opportunities open to me." I mean that I don't know which of these I will be more interested in in six years, but it's the same path so I'm okay with not knowing right now.</p>

<p>So obviously, BigEastBeast, I have thought this through. No one knows where they'll be in ten years, but I know what path I want to head down. I may not know exactly what position I'll be in in ten years, and in what city, and how many kids will be playing inside my white picket fence, but I have thought this through. Thank you for all your help.</p>

<p>Oh, and @zapfino: I'm pretty competitive academically and I'm very committed to everything I set out to do...and I agree with your comment about wannabee ambassadors lol :)</p>

<p>Can anyone else give advice on whether (in regards to Pitt) if I should stick with Spanish (I'd have take all 4 years in HS), or if i could start off clean with Russian and do well?? Thanks.</p>

<p>Just be careful and have a backup plan, becoming a cop isn't as easy as it use to be. For example the NYPD hiring process is a complete mess, some wait years to get hired, most never do.</p>

<p>I definitly think you can eventually become a cop (assuming you think you can complete the process), but their will probably be lag time. It may take you 4 - 6 years after college to become a full time officer. As far as federal LE, you won't get hired out of college, with the exception of BP, if they go on another hiring blitz - anyones guess. </p>

<p>Of course, I'm talking about 1811, 0132, & 0083 positions. You could get a job as an office clerk though, maybe with an internship. You definitly won't be an 1811 in the FBI after leaving college, but I assume you already know that.</p>

<p>Start applying about 6 months before graduation, give yourself a head start with PD's, and don't be afraid to move, you'll probably have too.</p>

<p>Good luck.</p>

<h2>As I understand it, and as my teachers have told me, fluency/native speaking is ranked at the very top of the (figurative) pyramid. For federal agencies (my info here is coming from the FBI, it might be different for others), you must pass the Defense Language Proficiency Test (listening and reading), and demonstrate a proficiency of 3+ on the Speaking Proficiency Test. And that's only if you go under the Critical Languages section. If you apply as under another skills section, you only need to pass the listening of the DLPT, and get a 2+ on the SPT in a critical foreign language (of which, Arabic, Russian and Spanish all qualify). (This second option is what I would probably enter under, as I could also apply as having law enforcement experience. This is definitely not fluency: having only a passing on listening for the DLPT and a 2+ on the SPT.) ~ Isismarie620</h2>

<p>Remember, that just means you get put in the process, it doesn't mean you will be competitive.</p>

<p>It's bare minimums, so remember that. If you are applying under language, you will have to pass those tests to show your competency to apply under the critical skill, then you get thrown in with the rest of the hopefuls.</p>

<p>But, if you can pass those tests and have a local/state LE background (as you'd like), then you will make a good applicant for any FLE agency.</p>

<p>I knew this, but thanks :)</p>

<p>Does anyone have any advice on my original question?</p>

<p>Good advice has been given already. Here's my advice:</p>

<p>If you want to do LE work in the US, learn Spanish. That's the most useful language, IMO. And it would work well in the Peace Corps as well.</p>

<p>If you really want proficiency in another language you'll develop it if you do the work.</p>

<p>Are you sure that you are ineligible for the military? If asthma is the reason, take a look at the methalcholine challenge. The military always needs smart people - and <em>sometimes</em>, when there is the will, there is a waiver. But you are unlikely to get extensive language training as an Officer.</p>

<p>I know good advice already had already been given, i just wanted more opinions :)</p>

<p>^^thanks. I had started looking into West Point and the Naval Academy, but again, I'd need a waiver to go..My doctor told me when I was younger that i couldn't last during a methalcholine challenge. I'm going to talk to her at my yearly physical to see if she still thinks this. I might try to get a second opinion on it too (My doctor isn't really that...invested...in her patients, IMO.) But thanks. i might try this.</p>

<p>You are quite welcome. </p>

<p>I would really, really pursue a waiver for military service - provided you are comfortable with the commitment. In the Army, you could branch Military Police after graduation and apply for Civil Affairs a few years later. If you can't get a waiver for a service academy, contact the ROTC cadre at your school and explain your situation. I can't estimate your likelihood of success, but if you can score well on a PT test and keep up physically I'd say you have a chance.</p>

<p>^^^^ Asthma is usually unwaiverable, as it should be.</p>

<p>It looks as if she has a documented history with asthma, so a waiver would be very difficult.</p>

<p>A PT score has no bearing on this, people can go years without an attack and be in peak physical shape, and bam - it hits them. If this were to happen while in a combat situation (even if the OP is a female), it could really put people in danger.</p>

<p>It's unfortunate, but I think the chances of a waiver are slim in this case.</p>

<p>My doctor told me about the methacholine challenge when I was around nine. I am older now, and while my doctor did think that I had exercise induced asthma (note that this was diagnosed less than two months after a was hospitalized for pneumonia, AND that I have gone five years without medication (that I used about twice in my life, anyway) and have never had an attack). Like I said, my doctor told me that I might not be able to get a waiver when I was little. Things have changed and I plan on getting a second opinion about my diagnoses. </p>

<p>BigEastBeast: no offense, but you don't know me. Yes, I am a female. No, I have never had an asthma attack or a panic attack or have had any medical problems due to what my doctor calls asthma (EIA). Also, I have seen many students with asthma get waivers for the military/service academies, because the last time they had symptoms was when they were ten or younger. And they've never had a problem with it :)</p>

<p>LAGator: Again, thanks! :)</p>