South Carolina's Flagship University

Academic Success Program

Kick Start Program

August 10–August 14

What is the Kick Start Summer Program?

Law school is famously difficult. Unlike college, studying the law is not merely learning a collection of facts and figures that a student needs to repeat on an exam — it is learning a new way to "think." To do this, law school uses methods very different from anything you may have experienced before. For example, most First Year courses are taught using the Socratic Method, where students come to class having "learned" the law themselves. They are then expected to apply what they have learned to novel situations, argue and defend their positions, and critique the goals of the laws they are studying. Instead of textbooks, course materials are "casebooks," filled with raw case law and few explanations. Finally, everything comes down to one final exam at the end of the semester. Consequently, law school is sometimes like being tossed into an ocean to learn how to swim. The Kick Start Summer Program is designed to tell you what you need to know to help you excel in this new environment.

Who can benefit from this program?

While all first-year students are eligible to apply, we are particularly interested in enrolling those students who are from groups traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession, those who have been out of school for a significant number of years, those who are unfamiliar with the American legal system, those who are eligible for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and those who have faced or overcome challenges or obstacles on the path to law school.


When the Program was first offered in 2013, the difference in grade point average was +.234 for students who had taken the course compared to those who had not. In 2014, the results were even more impressive, with a +.59264 difference in grade point average. 97 percent of students who attended the Program rated the Program as either "Good" or "Excellent."

What will students do in Kick Start?

Kick Start is designed to be "law school with subtitles." Kick Start students will attend a one-week mini-course taught by one of our top professors and several workshops on topics such as Effective Reading and Note-Taking, Case Briefing, Course Outlining, Time Management, and Law School Exam Writing presented by Alex Ruskell, Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation. The course will end with a mock exam. In addition, Kick Start students will get the chance to attend several social events with faculty, administration, and family.

Is there a cost to attend Kick Start?

The fee for the Kick Start Program is $125. It will be applied to your school bill.

How do I apply to Kick Start?

Only students who have already been admitted to the University of South Carolina School of Law may apply for the Kick Start Program.

To apply to Kick Start:

Please write a brief personal statement (no more than 500 words) about why you want to attend Kick Start and why you might benefit from the program (for example, if you have been out of school for many years or if you majored in something without a strong writing component). Please email statements to ruskell@law.sc.edu, or by post to Alex Ruskell, University of South Carolina School of Law, 701 South Main Street, Room 314, Columbia, SC 29208. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, although we recommend that all applications be submitted before July 17, 2015.


Contact Alex Ruskell, Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation, at ruskell@law.sc.edu or (803) 777-8115.