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How Important are AP Level Foreign Language Courses in High School to Dartmouth Admissions??

monofrunnermonofrunner 17 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
Daughter reviewed the Dartmouth admissions website and is applying Early Decisions -- she knows that 3 years of high school foreign language are recommended and 4 years are preferred; she took Spanish I and II in middle school and placed into Spanish III (Pre-AP Spanish) for freshman year of high school, so her transcript shows 3 years of a foreign language as having been fulfilled for high school diploma. The high school Spanish teacher (who taught Pre-AP Spanish III in 9th grade and was the school's only Spanish teacher) had developed early dementia and would mix up the students' grades, among many other things (she retired two years later) and the class was a huge waste of time, with many students at academically rigorous public high school being given C's, D's, etc. (and no admissions officer needs to hear this excuse--guessing these unfortunate types of situations arise for most high schools students at some point with some class(es). The upshot is that she chose to drop high school Spanish for her own peace of mind, knowing it might hurt her HS transcript/college apps, but it was the right choice for her, given the circumstances). In order to take more rigorous AP classes and pursue ECs, she did not switch into beginner levels of a new foreign language (French/Latin) for the remainder of high school (10th-12th grades). This spring, she will graduate with a rigorous high school curriculum that includes 16 AP classes with extremely high grades in the classes and high AP exam scores (mostly 5s)) so far--but only Pre-AP Spanish III in 9th for her foreign language. Does anyone know how much emphasis Dartmouth places on the recommended (3 years)/preferred (4 years) high school foreign language? Is there anyone reading this who applied having only taken a foreign language class (level III/Pre-AP) in 9th grade (even though the AP levels were offered at the high school) who was accepted to Dartmouth?
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Replies to: How Important are AP Level Foreign Language Courses in High School to Dartmouth Admissions??

  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29255 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It’s going to be a problem. My son took Foreign Lang, 1 and 2 at one high school. That language was not offered at the high school to which he transferred. He was flat out told that it would be an issue at the most selective schools to have this 2/2 split in Foreign Language. He took the Foreign Lsnguage course privately at another school which was an enormous pain in the neck, and took the SAT2 in that language as well scheduled an AP test in it senior year. Dartmouth was one of those schools, and he was told specifically, it was important.

    That was back some years, and perhaps things have changed, but IMO, not. When schools RECOMMEND and PREFER on their requirements for admissions page, it means that for most students, they dang well better toe that line.
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  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 37 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Not about Dartmouth or Foreign Language specifically but my daughter maxed out all available science classes with Physics in 11th grade by accelerating lab sciences in middle school. During a conversation with an AO at Vassar, she was told in no uncertain terms “Colleges do not care about what you did in Middle School and 4 years of a subject in high school means what it says”. When she said she there were no other classes available to her, the woman said “Then perhaps Vassar is not for you”. It was not the most pleasant interaction and D is not applying. My guess is at a school with an abundance of highly qualified applicants, they can reject anyone they want at any point in the process for any reason they deem fit.
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  • TheBigChefTheBigChef 538 replies5 threadsRegistered User Member
    Dartmouth had a 7.9% acceptance rate last cycle, which probably means somewhere around 5% for unhooked applicants. It "prefers" four years of HS foreign language, and "recommends" three. Your daughter stopped after ninth grade. That's definitely going to be an issue (as she herself recognized at the time she made her decision).
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33603 replies369 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The Vassar tale is unfortunately harsh. Yikes.

    "she took Spanish I and II in middle school and placed into Spanish III (Pre-AP Spanish) for freshman year of high school, so her transcript shows 3 years of a foreign language as having been fulfilled for high school diploma."

    I think you understand one year in high school is one year in high school. Adcoms are under no obligation to look at the middle school transcript, even if courses from then do show. It is FAR too easy to downrate an app with a comment like, "Only 1 year of FL." This reflects their expectations, not what the hs wants for a hs diploma.

    Your GC can explain issues with the teacher. But your D is responsible for her own best choices. Find another way to continue Spanish. And FL does matter for certain majors.

    16 AP? It's the cores that matter most, not electives, certainly not just the count of AP. The Ivies are plain about this not being an AP arms race.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29255 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @helpingmom40 , though that was not a pleasant interaction , it gave a gleam of what really goes on in Admissions Offices of selectuve colleges. Most worthless are the AOs that encoutagevall the kids and say any and every thing is just fine when they dang well know it’s not true.

    Technically, schools do take kids that do not have even the admissions requirements as EXCEPTIONS. Yeah, if they desperately need a quarterback back or you are an Olympic level roster, a lot of exceptions might be made. If you are Jo or Joe Aversge, not so much. It behooves then to encourage as many applicants as possible as it gives them a higher selectivity.

    I’ve said this before—I walked out of a Admissions event right after the AO told a parent who asked about minimum gpa straight to a coach who told my kid to retake the SAT because he was close to cut mark. He looked at me like I was a dolt when I said Admissions just said there was no minimum and repeated that there was for auto admit for flagged students. And if you ain’t flagged, you are auto dismissed from consideration if you don’t meet that mark. Coach had been there for many years and consulted directly with Admissions. I believed him over the AO
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7004 replies50 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    What's done is done at this point in terms of FL. IMO, you are better off using the ED for a school that doesn't prefer 4 years.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29255 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Many if not most of the highly selective schools consider FL as an important part of the academic profile. I suggest OP's daughter to take a level 2 Foreign language course at a local college or find something on line to show that she is getting somewhat of an equivalence. Yes, it makes a difference unless you have something so outstanding, they make exception.
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  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 37 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I am actually thankful for that AO at Vassar, as silly as that sounds. My D had an initial list of close to 40 schools and was chasing a “vibe”. That very brief conversation told us that was not the place for her and freed us up to move on to the next one. I’d much prefer blunt and honest than blowing smoke, especially when it gives you an idea of what schools are thinking in terms of “recommend”, “prefer”, and “required” which all mean the same thing.
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