Each year high school juniors ask me, “Do I need to continue taking a foreign language senior year?” The answer is not a simple yes or no. Most colleges require students to have two or three years of a world language in high school. However, the most competitive applicants at selective colleges usually have four years of each core subject (math, English, science, history/social sciences, and foreign language). Of course there are exceptions to this, but students should think twice before they discontinue studying a foreign language senior year of high school.
Reasons to Continue Studying a Foreign Language
- Studying a foreign language for four years of high school is part of a strong transcript. Colleges want to see prospective students who consistently challenge themselves by taking rigorous course loads and mastering each core subject to its highest level.
- Colleges often have a foreign language requirement as part of the core college curriculum. These schools often require students to take a foreign language placement exam before beginning their freshman year. Students who continued studying the same foreign language all four years of high school may be required to complete less foreign language coursework or even be exempted from taking a world language during college.
- Foreign language study fosters global awareness. Many students opt for an abroad college experience. Colleges often require students to achieve moderate language proficiency levels to study abroad. Continuing a foreign language through senior year will help students prepare for a study abroad experience not only from a conversational level but also help them understand the culture too.
When Opting Out of World Language May Be the Right Decision
- Students not achieving good grades in a foreign language despite a strong effort may want to consider dropping a foreign language senior year. This is especially true for some students with learning differences.
- Scheduling conflicts during senior year are very common. Limited upper level sections (sometimes only one) are offered for some courses with the highest level of difficulty. Sometimes students must make hard decisions between two core classes of interest. Students should discuss with their counselors to help them determine which courses make the most sense to pursue without limiting their future college choices.
© 2016, Admissions on Track. All rights reserved.