Continental Educational Difference (My Journey as a Forensic Science student)

I feel like the time has truly flown by in a jiffy. It has been 7 months since I arrived in the United States as a postgraduate student of Forensic Science and each day (well, most of the days) has been a wonderful learning experience. As a first-year master’s in forensic science student at the University of New Haven, I am growing even more passionate about the subject by the day. 

The hands-on learning experiences in our laboratory sessions have proved to be enriching and useful at the same time. As much as theoretical knowledge of the various sub-fields of Forensic Science is crucial, practical experience enhances the understanding manifold. Forensic science is an applied science and a small mistake on the part of the professionals can change lives, literally. There have been hundreds of cases where the innocent have been convicted and the guilty exonerated.

Every semester we get to choose one elective as per our choice and the electives are quite interesting. For example, in the last semester, I had taken up ‘Advanced Crime Scene Investigation’ as my elective course and learned how to search, recognize, collect and document evidence items in mock crime scenes. Presently in my second semester, I am attending the elective course in ‘Advanced Fingerprint Analysis’. There are elective courses on human trafficking, animal cruelty, and bone DNA analysis to name a few.

As I had done my bachelor’s degree in India, I often think about how certain things are different between both countries. Back in India, I did not have any options for courses. All the courses were mandatory and we had to attend all of them. I think this is something the Indian universities can improve upon since mandating courses for everyone will not prove very useful. Interests vary among people and compelling subjects that do not excite students will result in no final benefits. My course curriculum here has 2 mandatory modules and 1 elective module. In such an academic setting, one does not feel as obligated. There is some scope to find out where your interests lie and pursue them academically and professionally.

My college in Nagpur had thorough lab sessions on fingerprint analysis and questioned document examination. Here in the States, the lab sessions are more focused on documentation of various evidence, DNA analysis, and serological examination. Additionally, lab sessions will vary according to the electives you take every semester if it has a laboratory aspect to them. 

At the University of New Haven, we are given weekly assignments to complete and a lot of them are understanding and self-research based: reading review and research articles, summarizing them, writing on assigned topics, and presenting or conducting small experiments at home. In my opinion that is a part, of the Indian universities that can work where the focus is on learning instead of memorizing and submitting assignments having stringent deadlines. 

In a nutshell, I believe we should have cross-country educational meets that not only discuss the present trends in the subject but also how to formulate good university courses for a better career path for the student.

About The Author

Riddhi Roy is currently pursuing her master’s in forensic science at the University of New Haven, The United States.

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