By Jean Reynolds

A recent study showed that 14% of recruits do not complete their police academy training. They have to abandon their dreams of a law enforcement career. Resolve not to be one of them—and follow up by using some practical tips to get ready.

One immediate challenge is attaining the level of fitness required for a law enforcement career. Smart recruits make sure they’ve raised their fitness levels before they report for the first day of classes. A gym membership is a wise investment, and working with a personal trainer is ideal.

But you can also get ready without expensive equipment. An inexpensive set of weights and a good pair of running shoes can help you get in shape. Working out with a friend, if possible, will help keep you motivated. If you have earbuds and a pocket-sized media player, you can listen to music while you’re exercising—another good way to keep your enthusiasm high. Think about safety as well. It’s wise to get a doctor’s advice before you begin a fitness program. The internet has many resources to help you avoid workout injuries.

Another challenge is learning how to manage your time. While you’re in the academy, you’re going to be pulled in many directions. There’s new information to process and remember. Physical training can leave you tired and drained. Successful recruits have a time-management plan in place before they report to the academy. Some tips:

  • Cut back drastically on television and social media
  • Set a time to go to bed and wake up – and stick to it
  • Enlist the support of family and friends
  • Set up a study area that’s comfortable and quiet
  • If your home is noisy, ask if a friend has a quiet room you can use for a few hours – or find out when the library is open

Often the biggest challenge is dealing with your fears as you begin your training. There’s so much to learn, and you’ll be under scrutiny all the time.

Don’t panic! Many recruits are nervous when they walk into that classroom for the first time. Those feelings are actually an advantage (as long as you don’t allow your nerves to take control). They’re are sign that you recognize that you’re taking an important step, and you’ve thought long and hard about it.

If you’re serious about a career in public safety, of course you’re going to feel overwhelmed at times. You’re stepping into something new and challenging .

Some tips:

  • Be sure to get enough rest
  • Don’t take criticism personally
  • Keep your career goals in mind
  • Build relationships with other recruits in your class
  • Keep your sense of humor
  • Remind yourself often that it’s okay to make mistakes while you’re learning
  • Be grateful that you have experienced officers who are willing to share their experience and knowledge
  • Ask for support when you need it

Police officers are heroes in the minds of many people – but they’re also human beings. Everyone has strengths and limitations. Successful people know how to manage the difficult patches that come along. They lean on a friend, get extra rest, or seek help from an expert.

The police academy is doable. Many men and women no different from you have met the challenges successfully. You can do it too!