Will Only 2 Years of Foreign Language Be a Disadvantage?

Question: How big of a disadvantage is taking only 2 years of foreign language? My daughter doesn't care for her Spanish class, and wants to double up on honors Math and Science courses instead. Is there somewhere to find a list of which schools require more than 2 years of foreign language?

The impact of taking only two years of language will depend on where your daughter applies. The more selective colleges and universities prefer 3 or even 4 years of foreign language ... and, ideally, of the same language.

But, if you read the fine print, this is typically a “recommendation" and not a “requirement," even at places at the upper end of the college-admissions food chain such as Harvard and Princeton.

The College Board Web site lists the language recommendations/requirements for all or most of the schools that your daughter is (or will eventually be) considering. Go to: Search for a college by name, and then, when you reach the Profile page, click on the “Admission" tab and scroll down to “High School Preparation."

If an applicant is firing on all other cylinders, colleges will look beyond the recommended-language shortage. But, of course, at the most uber-selective places, where nearly every applicant walks on water, your daughter would be at a definite disadvantage if she enters the fray with only two years of Spanish on her transcript.

But if she really despises her Spanish class, she might consider other options such as summer or community college language classes, immersion programs abroad, etc.

If, however, she's not aiming at the more selective schools, then she can get away with just the two years of Spanish she's had already.

¡Buena suerte!

(posted 2/26/2012)