Will Low Grades in Spanish Hurt Admission Odds?

Question: My son is a junior. He is doing well (grades in 90s) in all classes except Spanish (low 80s). He would like to apply to engineering schools. Forget MIT or Stanford, but will schools like RPI, WPI or Case Western hold it against him that he can't seem to learn Spanish very well?

Your son is in luck. If he's going to lag behind in one subject, then he picked the “right" one. Many college officials … even at the hyper-competitive colleges … have observed that foreign language classes can be an Achilles Heel. Some high schools (especially public ones) don't have great language programs, and thus otherwise strong students don't fare as well in these classes as they do in their others. Sometimes, too, the classes are fine but the student–for whatever reason–just doesn't “get" foreign language.

If your son's grades and tests scores are strong in math and sciences, then admission folks at RPI, WPI and Case Western Reserve should not penalize him for his downfall in Spanish. Case, by the way, is one of those great “sleeper" schools that isn't insanely hard to get into and yet has an excellent reputation. The students are smart too. In fact, Case probably gets its share of those who aimed for Stanford or MIT but didn't quite make the grade … perhaps in Spanish. 😉

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