Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.

Strong Foreign Language Student

KidsinNOVAKidsinNOVA Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
My son is a very strong foreign language student (6 years of German and AP German) Governors School for German Language, seal of bi-literacy on diploma, a good gpa 3.9, and wants to study German in college. Problem is, he doesn’t have a 1380 SAT needed to get into the best German programs. His verbal is high, but his math is just average. Any recommendations?

Replies to: Strong Foreign Language Student

  • TTGTTG Registered User Posts: 1,525 Senior Member
    Bard College is very strong in languages and has a freshman year in Germany program. A friend of one of mine did this program. You don't mention in cost restrictions. It is likely to be an expensive choice, though you'd want to research it, I can't say for sure.

  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 9,118 Senior Member
    edited May 2018
    If your son's interests extend to the breadth of German studies (language and literature, as well as topics in areas such as history, government, philosophy, music), then some excellent programs at test optional/flexible schools might suit his level. Wheaton (MA), for example, appears to offer solid German programs. If his GPA reflects a rigorous curriculum, his available choices could range to highly selective colleges, such as appropriate NESCACs. In any case, he would benefit from a year of study in Germany, so look for programs that emphasize this component.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 39,609 Senior Member
    Dickinson would be an excellent match. Apply for a German major and the lower math score will be overlooked if he can present a really high German subject test score.

    Note that the German test is not offered all sessions so make sure to check if it's offered in June or August, as it may not be.
  • warblersrulewarblersrule Super Moderator Posts: 9,999 Super Moderator
    edited May 2018
    Has he looked into the Congress-Bundestag exchange program? It is a terrific opportunity for those fluent in German. I have two friends who did the exchange on a gap year before attending Princeton and Davidson, and both loved it.


    Fortunately for your son, German isn't exactly an obscure language. Even small colleges with very few language offerings typically offer German, so he has plenty of options beyond the most selective colleges. Begin with the usual considerations:
    • How much can you afford? Will you need substantial financial and/or merit aid?
    • How big of a college is he looking for? Colleges range in size from places like the New College of Florida (860 undergrads) to Ohio State (46,000 undergrads).
    • Is he looking for a particular setting (rural, suburban, college town, big city, etc.) and in a specific region(s) of the US?
    If he's not sure yet what he wants in a college, I recommend visiting a variety of colleges in your area so he can figure out what environment suits him best.
    Problem is, he doesn’t have a 1380 SAT needed to get into the best German programs. His verbal is high, but his math is just average.
    Look into the test-optional and test-flexible colleges.


    Some kids do better on the ACT. Has he done a practice test?
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 28,722 Senior Member
    Don't be too certain that the lower math score will be a barrier given his specific interests. Let him look at some of the strongest programs and if he still wants to, he can take a shot at them. Just make certain that he knows it is a longshot.
  • VAMom23VAMom23 Registered User Posts: 451 Member
    Has he tried the ACT?
  • katliamomkatliamom Registered User Posts: 12,459 Senior Member
    edited May 2018
    Also, as you calculate costs, do take into consideration the cost of a study abroad in Germany. Serious language students usually make a point of studying in-country, some programs require it, and they're not inexpensive!
  • BooBooBearBooBooBear Registered User Posts: 388 Member
    You also need to ask yourself as part o this process whether or not he is comfortable at large universities or wants a small environment. If he is capable/willing to duke it out at large schools, then google around about the best German PhD programs and see which of those have easier admissions standards for undergraduates, Indiana University comes to mind instantly, for example. That is one road.

    The other road is to figure out a set of LACs that he is competitive for admissions, then look at those colleges’ websites for faculty and departmental information—make sure they HAVE a major in German, and even if they do, take a close look to compare how many German professors they actually have on faculty and pick the strongest. In this case, I really would start by winnowing the field of LACs to look at—Middlebury is a great choice, for example, but a 3.9/1300-ish SAT will not suffice for admission.
  • MNgurl101MNgurl101 Registered User Posts: 104 Junior Member
    I just finished my college search and a decent German minor program was important to me. There are lots of midwestern colleges strong in Germanic languages for heritage reasons. Concordia College-Moorhead was my one of my safeties and gives very strong merit aid; foreign language and music seemed like their strongest departments to me. I was also impressed with the U of Minnesota-Twin Cities’ department, although I didn’t like the school overall (I’m more of an LAC person) and it gives poor in-state financial aid imo. I have a friend who is a German and theater double major who loves it there. Out east, I chose Washington and Lee (in case you can’t tell from my profile pic :) ) which I think has a good program for a minor or second major but I don’t know if it’d be that great for a standalone major. It appears to be quite literature intensive but we have a May term so lots of opportunities for 4 week trips to Germany/Austria/Switzerland and strong financial aid. Middlebury is, of course, great for foreign language but he’d need to raise his SAT for sure.

    Could he try the ACT? There are two language based sections and the science section is similar to reading with the addition of some basic graphs, so those might provide a larger counterweight against his math score. Also second the idea of a German SAT II and maybe the National German Exam.
  • merc81merc81 Registered User Posts: 9,118 Senior Member
    edited May 2018
    MNgurl101 wrote:
    Middlebury is, of course, great for foreign language but he’d need to raise his SAT for sure.
    For recently enrolled Middlebury students who submitted scores, the middle-range SAT extends from 1300-1460, which may indeed be beyond the scores suggested in the original post. However, Middlebury's test flexible policy could suit the OP's son well.
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 3,438 Senior Member
    edited May 2018
    There are lots of midwestern colleges strong in Germanic languages for heritage reasons.
    To my knowledge, there's no list of "Germanic-heritage" schools (they tend to be located in the Midwest or Pennsylvania), but in practice such schools often have Lutheran connections. And there is a list of Lutheran-affiliated schools: https://lutherancolleges.org/the-lutheran-experience/a-liberal-arts-education/

    St. Olaf College (in Minnesota) would be one of the top picks on this list (although their heritage is Norwegian rather than German). St. Olaf is also one of the "Colleges that Change Lives", which is basically a group of academically strong liberal arts colleges that are not super-selective: https://ctcl.org

    It wouldn't surprise me if some of these schools had special scholarships or awards, endowed by German-speaking alumni long ago, for German majors.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 28,722 Senior Member
    Wartburg in Iowa has German Lutheran foundations. Current offerings include both German language and German studies.
  • aquaptaquapt Registered User Posts: 1,631 Senior Member
    Re: U of MN - UMinn Morris is a hidden gem - a public LAC that at least *used* to charge in-state tuition to all students. It's kind of like the William & Mary of Minnesota. Their German faculty is just 3 professors, so it would be important to check them out... but I'm sure this is the size of German departments at many/most smaller schools.
  • Coll67Coll67 Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    Wheaton Mass has strong foreign language program and many international internships. And you can take courses at Brown.
  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 Registered User Posts: 1,073 Senior Member
    I would also check out the defense language institute in Monterey. It has always been highly regarded and now rungs has a program via Middleburg ( also strong in languages). As someone who originally pursued languages in college, I would highly recommend taking courses associated with the language of that culture ( history, economics etc). I would also check out what the end goal is. For me, it was to be a simultaneous translator at the UN (until I found out the pay scale, sooooo low). I quickly realized that international banking/business was a whole lot more lucrative. For those who take a language as a major the MOST important thing is to be able to speak it fluently (native or close to) taking literature courses in a language and understanding its writers has limited use compared to speaking. Writing is a close second. I would tell him to watch carefully for program that include learning abroad (a given) in a non-American program (important else he might spend most of his time talking in English to other Americans). Also, Germans speak English quite well due to their educational system. So while it is advantageous to be able to speak German he might need to pick up a third or fourth language to make it worthwhile.
    Finally, it he takes German in conjunction with international business or really anything he can combine the two fields. For me, I always had to learn the specific terms in foreign languages based on the field I was in (banking, etc.) Speaking four languages fluently gave me access to Senior level jobs in my late 20s that would not have been available had I not spoken the language. Plus I got to live and work in many countries on my companies dime. And there is nothing like being in a room where they complain about Americans until you speak up and tell them you are one. Then I knew I had mastered French :)
This discussion has been closed.