QC’s Pre-Law Advising Program: Short-Lived But Wildly Successful

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In the 2019-2020 academic year, Queens College ranked 139 amongst the top 240 ABA Feeder schools, sending around 135 to 140 students to law school per year. Although it is not as much as John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which averaged 310 per year and ranked 36 amongst the top 240 ABA Feeder schools, it is nearly on par with Baruch and Hunter, which rank 135 and 136 respectively. 

One would think that a college sending around 135 to 140 students to Law School would have an official pre-law program in place, and for a brief moment, there was one. Professor Sari Kisilevsky, from the Philosophy department, was asked by the administration to set up a program, and she successfully did. The program offered advising, events, outreach, and speakers to students. The program operated in a way that would accommodate alumni, because 75% of law school applicants are graduates. The program was, as expected, very successful and the demand for advising, which is always high, was reaching new heights now that there were students aware of the program and the services it offered them. 

The program provided tips for law school applications, LSAT preparation, scholarships, internships, and other valuable networking opportunities. Several students were even accepted into national pipeline programs, which helped students to effectively apply to law school. Despite the fact that the pipelines are naturally very competitive, QC students still excelled. These pipelines offer free LSAT prep, a stipend, and often all-expenses paid trips.

The Pre-Law advising program was doing very well and was greatly valued by the students who were taking advantage of the services provided, such as Yael Simons, a Political Science major at Queens College, set to graduate at the end of Spring ‘23. Simons, who has been offered a full ride at New England Law in Boston, states that she has known about her desire to pursue law as a career since high school. She shares that by having known her goal, it made it easier to focus her time in undergrad towards that objective, something the Pre-Law program helped with. 

Simons valued the QC Pre-Law advising program because it facilitates a community of students in different ways, but as usual the more you ‘put in’ to programs like this, the more you’ll ‘get out.’ She says, “I have taken advantage of Pre-Law advisors like Prof. Kisilevsky, who [through Zoom meetings over the pandemic] walked me through my steps and application timelines, and who even followed up when I dropped off the grid [from stress] to make sure I was getting the resources I needed.” 

Another way that Simons was able to connect with students during the COVID-19 pandemic was by being part of the Pre-Law Discord channel, where they have spent hours commenting and editing each other’s application materials. There is no doubt that the support she received from QC Pre-Law program helped her build a more compelling and effective application, she says, “One I absolutely could not have created alone.”

Unfortunately, after two successful short years that much-lauded program is coming to an end; the problem comes down to funding, and the administration’s refusal to commit. The longest it could be kept running without additional resources was two years, according to Professor Kisilevesky, thus this Spring semester rang its death knell. 

This is not to say that no one fought for the program to last longer. Professor Kisilevesky herself created a website for the program, full of instructions on how to apply to law school, pipelines, who to contact, and who to get advice from. However, the website was deleted in Dec. 2022, as the program, created in Spring 2020, came to an official end in this past Fall.  

“I am extremely disappointed on behalf of the students,” said Professor Kisilevesky. “Queens College really needs and deserves a good Pre-Law program, and we were fantastic! We were doing very well, and the demand for advising was — and still is — high.” 

When asked about students who wish to do things on their own, and if the program really is a necessity, Prof. Kisilevsky praised the drive, but also expressed concern. As she has mentioned, the goal was to get students into law school in very financially stable ways, particularly because the law school applications are filled with debt traps. As one should, QC students really value that. 

Professor Kisilevesky said that it is wonderful for students to want to do things on their own, but she would want them to also be financially secure and this is the job of an advisor. She claims, “As my duty is to the students, to get real information for their futures.” She emphasizes that it is tricky, thus she really hopes students can understand the financial aspects and how to evaluate schools and offers based on debt-to-income ratio, and how to get scholarships. 

Nevertheless, Professor Kisilevsky goes that extra mile and informed The Knight News that she has helped organize a CUNY-wide event that will be taking place this upcoming April, at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. It is an event open to all CUNY pre-law students, where they can have lunch with CUNY graduates as they hear about their journeys to law. This is the last Pre-Law event that Queens College will have unless an official program is created again. 

Professor Kisilevsky said, “Professor Natalie Vena, from the department of Urban Studies, and I agreed to advise students until the end of the cycle, and this will only last, until then.” While Queens College’s website does still market a Pre-Law Advising Program, the department’s website was deleted, as previously mentioned, as advisement is done with no formal coursework or anything of that nature; ending at the end of this semester.

QC students need — and want — a Pre-Law program. Professor Kisilevesky kindly points out that if administration hears about the necessity of the services offered in Pre-Law programs from the students it could be a really big push.

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