Are Two Years of Foreign Language Enough?

Question: How important is language? My high school only requires 2 years of a language, but how many years do most colleges want? Do they usually look for a passing score of an AP Language test? Next year (sophomore year of HS), I am not sure if I should take an extra science class or continue with Spanish.

Many colleges are fine with just two years of foreign language (and some don't demand any foreign language at all). But the more selective colleges and universities typically expect three years of the same foreign language (and may even prefer four). So by stopping Spanish at the end of 10th grade, you will definitely limit your college options down the road. Although admission officials might look the other way if you apply with fewer than the expected years of foreign language, you will be “competing" with other applicants who have fulfilled this requirement so—unless you have clear-cut strengths that make up for this deficiency—the lack of language classes will be a liability.

Individual college Web sites will tell you what the language requirements are for admission, so if you already have specific schools in mind, you can look them up now. College Confidential's SuperMatch can also help you compare language requirements at the places you are considering.

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