I recently graduated from the basic reserve/intermittent police academy. I have a BS in criminal justice and have been fortunate enough to be brought on as a special with a local department. My dilemma begins with the fact that I am 26 years old and feel as though I am behind where I want to be in my career. I have been considering putting myself through the full-time police academy and am hoping for some insight. I have been told that putting myself through the full-time academy may cost anywhere from $3,000-$7,000 and l, like many people, will need to evaluate if I am financially able to afford not only the cost of the academy but the obstacles that come with having little to no income through out that time. These next few years of my career seem as though it will be crunch time with the options of gaining valuable experience as a special and/or reserve officer with the hope of a department putting me through the academy. Which in these economic times may not be until I am well in to my 30's. Or taking on the financial challenge of putting myself through the academy and hope that a department will be more inclined to hire me knowing it will be more cost efficient for them. Through out the short time I have been following this site, it is apparent there are several of you who are seasoned professionals who have much to offer for individuals like myself. Having said that, I realize that if it is possible, supporting myself through the full-time academy might be the best option. If anyone is able to help me better understand what lies ahead I would greatly appreciate it. Have any of you put yourself through the full-time academy? About how much would it cost? Does it significantly increase the chance that a department would hire me during or shortly after the academy? Does having the full-time academy outweigh the potential financial strain? Thanks for the help.