Preparing for College

Por Favor .... Can I Drop Spanish?

Question: My junior year just began, and I am enrolled in Spanish I. I really have no desire to learn Spanish, and I'm afraid that it will bring down my GPA since I'm so unmotivated. I have heard that most quality colleges require two years of Spanish. Should I continue taking Spanish now and take Spanish II next year, or can I drop the class for something better suited to my interests?

Colleges typically don't have "requirements" when it comes to foreign language, only programs of study that are "recommended" or "strongly recommended." At the most competitive colleges, applicants usually have four or more years of one foreign language or two or three years of a couple. It doesn't matter what the foreign language is (in some cases, it's even American Sign Language) but admission officials do expect candidates to have studied a language other than the one spoken in their homes for a mimimum of two years.

If you have no other foreign language on your transcript, then your applications will definitely appear weaker if you drop Spanish now. In fact, I'm surprised that you're starting your first foreign language so late in your academic career. However, if you've already studied another language, you can say adios to your Spanish class.

As I said above, foreign language is rarely required but almost always recommended. When students apply to competitive colleges with no language study on their transcripts, it's usually due to a severe learning disability, to the fact that they come from a high school that has no language program (rare but possible), or because there are other extenuating circumstances.

So my advice would be to drop Spanish only if you have taken a minimum of two years of another language already (and three would be much better). Stick with it, if not. However, if you're really tearing your hair out over the Spanish class but haven't had any other foreign language, you might consider enrolling in an online language course that you take independently at home. In particular, if you choose a language that's not typically studied by high school students, you'll draw admission-committee attention in a positive way.

Keep in mind before you make a final choice that Spanish is so widely spoken in the U.S. (and the world) that it's a practical skill to learn, and you may be grateful down the road that you've studied it.