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Didn't take a single foreign language in HS

IsaacNeutronIsaacNeutron 5 replies1 threads New Member
Long story short, I'll be graduating HS in 21' without having taken a single foreign language throughout the last 3 years.

This has me really stressed out, because I was never even told that most of the selective colleges require like 3-4 years of a foreign language. On top of that, my school doesn't even have it as a graduation requirement.

I can't help but feel like I've been screwed over, considering I've been working so hard to get the best grades and a good enough GPA. And the most ironic part is that I already speak a foreign language at home.
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Replies to: Didn't take a single foreign language in HS

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83795 replies743 threads Senior Member
    If your heritage language is offered at your high school, and your skill in it is high enough to place into the 3rd or 4th year (or AP level) course, then take that course at the very least. If your skill is higher than the highest level offered, consider taking SAT subject and AP tests in the language, and check local colleges for suitably higher level courses that you can take. For colleges that look at the highest level completed or equivalent, that may be enough.

    However, any of the above may still not look as good as taking several years of a new language through high school, when the most selective colleges' admission readers look at your application.
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  • IsaacNeutronIsaacNeutron 5 replies1 threads New Member
    None of those options are offered at my school. Could AP classes and a good enough ACT score in general, be enough to compensate for no languages?
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  • typiCAmomtypiCAmom 602 replies31 threads Member
    Can you take language classes at your local community college?
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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 2255 replies28 threads Senior Member
    I am very sorry this happened to you. Your guidance counselor is to blame and should have made sure you had at least 2 years of a foreign language in your schedule to attend a four year college.

    My suggestion is to talk to college admissions representatives directly about what happened to you. There may not be anything top tier colleges can do but maybe someone out there will work with you.

    I would also suggest contacting your guidance counselor this summer and letting them know that you want to go to a four year college but are lacking language classes. Maybe they will have a solution.

    These are unusual times with Covid19 causing financial problems for nearly all schools. Someone might be willing to work with you especially if the rest of your application is very strong. Good luck.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 8005 replies85 threads Senior Member
    First, the hard truth question: did you consciously choose NOT to take FL? (perhaps figuring that you already have 2 languages)

    Second, context matters. Your school's graduation requirements will be on the school profile. What schools are you most interested in?
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  • me29034me29034 2169 replies107 threads Senior Member
    Most four year colleges have a 2 year language requirement. The problem here isn't just with selective schools that have a 3 or 4 year requirement. I think you need to figure out some way to get credit for your existing second language.
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  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer 1269 replies3 threads Senior Member
    edited July 7
    Just looked at the admissions website of a STEM university where the average entering student has a GPA of 3.92 on an unweighted scale of 4. Their admissions website states: Fulfill ***** academic requirements:

    four years of math (including pre-calculus)
    four years of English
    two years of lab science

    These are the clearly stated minimal.

    Personally, I am a fan of foreign languages for many reasons. The University discussed is my Alma Mata, but I never took a language at this institution. In depth language minors are offered and usually involve overseas research.

    See https://www.wpi.edu/academics/study

    What are your intended range of majors? The field may be broader than you think!
    edited July 7
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  • IsaacNeutronIsaacNeutron 5 replies1 threads New Member
    I actually wanted to take a foreign language. It was definitely something that was on my mind throughout high school, but I never thought it would've been a requirement for college- otherwise I would've immediately taken it.

    My counselor is away until mid-August, so I can't exactly email her at the moment. However, I am wondering if I could take a second year language class. It's probably highly unlikely, considering you need to have taken the previous course beforehand.

    In terms of colleges, I don't have anything too specific in mind. I plan on going into the STEM field. As vague as it sounds, my goal is getting into the best college that I can.
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  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer 1269 replies3 threads Senior Member
    @IsaacNeutron

    I do you determine "best?"
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 3497 replies80 threads Senior Member
    Look into taking a CLEP exam in the language you speak at home.
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  • aquaptaquapt 2452 replies51 threads Senior Member
    There are some self-paced online programs, such as BYU Online, that could allow you to churn out two years of foreign language before you graduate, although it might not be the most inspiring experience. (Or you could enroll quickly and drill down on a first-year language this summer, in order to take a second-year language at school in the fall.)

    Another option could be to consider the merits of a gap year abroad, i.e. with AFS. Of course this would be a huge commitment if the only reason is to check a requirement box, but it could be a great experience for other reasons too, and a lot of overseas high schools offer high-level STEM classes that you might not have taken yet, so that you could keep moving forward in those areas as well. Even if you're not sure you'd prefer this option, you could keep it on the table and see how things turn out with your college apps.

    Looking at the College Transitions list of "Foreign Language Requirements for Colleges" (I'd post the link but CC will block it - you can Google it), there are a number of strong STEM schools that don't have a FL requirement or a strong recommendation. I'll leave it to you to verify on the individual websites, but according to this list, check out Caltech, RPI, U of Rochester, and Stevens.

    A lot of public U's, and some private ones, will accept CLEP credit so that's an option too, as suggested above.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2433 replies39 threads Senior Member
    These are the clearly stated minimal.
    The CDS also lists 2 years of foreign language as “Recommended”, along with several other courses.

    I wouldn’t read this too literally - lots of schools have bare minimums that are easily met. Harvard, for example, has nothing that’s “Required” - everything is just “Recommended”.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83795 replies743 threads Senior Member
    My counselor is away until mid-August, so I can't exactly email her at the moment. However, I am wondering if I could take a second year language class. It's probably highly unlikely, considering you need to have taken the previous course beforehand.

    If it is your heritage language, then your skill may be higher than high school year 2 courses, so you may be able to take a higher level than that.

    If it is closely related to your heritage language (e.g. your heritage language is Portuguese or Italian, but your school offers Spanish), it is at least theoretically possible that you could take year 2 without taking year 1.

    Otherwise, if you are highly motivated, you could try learning a language taught at your high school over the summer (using any of various language learning methods, not necessarily an official class) to get to the point of being able to enter your high school's year 2 or 3 course.

    Others may be able to help you better if you list the following:

    * Your heritage language and how well you listen, speak, read, and write it.
    * What languages your school offers, and to what levels.
    * What languages local colleges offer, and to what levels.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30834 replies198 threads Senior Member
    edited July 7
    Does your high school offer foreign languages at all, and if so, how many years?

    If foreign language is not required for graduation, are there special rules about that? For example, is it normally required but not if you complete a Tech. Ed. program? Did you get a formal waiver of the usual language requirement because of your home language?

    Is foreign language required for admission to the public universities in your home state, and if so how many years?

    Those are the questions to start with. There are work-arounds for your situation. Start with the people at your own school. Check the offerings at your local community college. Read the admission requirements for the places people from your school normally go to for college. That will give you ideas of options.
    edited July 7
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  • me29034me29034 2169 replies107 threads Senior Member
    It sounds like your high school really dropped the ball on this one. At my kids high school all kids are automatically enrolled in the 5 basics (English, math, history, science and foreign language). The levels vary of course from student to student but everyone has to take all five for your freshman and sophomore years. I can't fathom how a high school could let this happen to a student who was potentially targeting top colleges.

    I hope you weren't doing something like ignoring standard scheduling advice and doubling up on math and science instead. I've read many posts on this site, typically written by children of immigrants, who misunderstand how college admissions works and take this route thinking it will help them, but it ends up causing problems instead. If this is what happened its too bad no one stepped in to correct it sooner.

    You've been giving some good advice on how to try to overcome this. Good luck. I hope something here works for you.
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  • 2plustrio2plustrio 394 replies7 threads Member
    me29034 wrote: »
    It sounds like your high school really dropped the ball on this one. At my kids high school all kids are automatically enrolled in the 5 basics (English, math, history, science and foreign language). The levels vary of course from student to student but everyone has to take all five for your freshman and sophomore years. I can't fathom how a high school could let this happen to a student who was potentially targeting top colleges.

    I hope you weren't doing something like ignoring standard scheduling advice and doubling up on math and science instead. I've read many posts on this site, typically written by children of immigrants, who misunderstand how college admissions works and take this route thinking it will help them, but it ends up causing problems instead. If this is what happened its too bad no one stepped in to correct it sooner.

    You've been giving some good advice on how to try to overcome this. Good luck. I hope something here works for you.

    I agree that many students, being that they are young teens with immature brains and inexperience, often think that doubling up on their "intended major" courses will be best and they basically dont listen and ignore any advice early on that says otherwise. Sadly, there are very few students who become the exception and that doing the doubling up actually is helpful. Also sadly many of these students often have parents who will only "accept" T20 schools. I feel for those kids.
    Truly hoping OP can do some of the suggestions and get into a school that is a good fit for them!
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  • JanieWalkerJanieWalker 729 replies22 threads Member
    I don't think U of Pittsburgh has a foreign language admissions requirement, fwiw. That's a fantastic school.
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  • StanleyCup2018StanleyCup2018 48 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I would take some practice AP and SAT II tests in the heritage language and see how you do. If well, then I would try to see of those scores could stand, given your high school requirements.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30834 replies198 threads Senior Member
    Is there a CLEP exam for your heritage language? That can be an easy way to pick up college credits if the college/university you end up at gives credit for CLEP. Happykid got 12 semester hours of credit for her heritage language that way.
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  • IsaacNeutronIsaacNeutron 5 replies1 threads New Member
    edited July 12
    I really want to thank everyone for the feedback and reassurance. As of right now, I came across a few options available to me , however it's still a little too early for me to hop aboard.

    I do have another question.

    Let's say that I am given the chance to take a foreign language. I would now have fulfilled the goal of taking a language at least once throughout HS. However, if I should get the chance to take a second course - should I do it?

    Obviously, most would say that it depends on the college/university. But will I still have a chance with 2 years worth of a language against some of the colleges requiring 3-4 years?
    edited July 12
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