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4 Years of Language vs. AP Science Class

over30over30 Registered User Posts: 2,411 Senior Member
edited April 2006 in Parents Forum
Dilemna on scheduling for senior year. Son is planning on taking AP physics B next year (school doesn't offer C). He's already taken AP Bio and honors Chem. Our AP science classes are all 2 periods each day, so it takes up a chunk of your schedule.

He would like to take AP Chem and AP Physics next year, but would have to drop his AP language class, leaving him with only 3 years of a language. Just how important is 4 vs. 3 years of language, especially if he plans to study some combination of engineering/science? He's worried about dropping the language, but also really wants to take all 3 AP sciences - which he can only do if he drops AP language. Any advice?
Post edited by over30 on
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Replies to: 4 Years of Language vs. AP Science Class

  • acinvaacinva Registered User Posts: 616 Member
    I see absolutely no problem at all -- especially since his interest is in engineering/science. Even the most elite school wouldn't hold that against him. Now if he wanted to drop the 4th year of a language for an extra PE class or art, that would be a different story.
  • mootmommootmom Registered User Posts: 4,162 Senior Member
    Drop AP language.

    Given his interests, the physics will be much better for him. He's already got 3 years of his language, which is usually plenty unless he was looking to major in something related in college. Check the websites for some of the schools he's interested in and see how many years of language they require/recommend. When I was doing this exercise recently, I found that colleges seldom require a language, and most of the ones I checked recommended 2 years, occasionally 3. Never did I see 4 years (except for English ;) ).
  • klcklc Registered User Posts: 241 Junior Member
    imho - if its french or spanish, greek or latin, take the science; if it's chinese, arabic, russian or german, take the lang.
  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 13,241 Senior Member
    Your son doesn't need 4 years of language to get into college, but he might need 4 to get out.

    Some colleges have a language requirement for graduation, equivalent to 4 years of high school language. If your son ends up in one of these schools, he will need to take one more course in his foreign language -- and he will be a bit rusty because he hasn't spoken that language for a year. He may want to think about whether or not he considers this a major problem.

    Fortunately, though, a lot of colleges do not have foreign language requirements for graduation at all for science majors (and especially not for engineering). Your son may want to look at the degree requirements at the schools that interest him to see whether he will need to take more foreign language in college.
  • sunshine_breezesunshine_breeze Registered User Posts: 372 Member
    If a college did recommend 4 years of a language, like Princeton, how much would not having 4 years hurt an applicant?
  • PackMomPackMom Registered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    My S applied as an engineering major at our state u. The requirement there was to have 2 years of h.s foreign language with a grade of "B' or 3 years with a grade average of"C". No fiurther foreign language was required from the dept. of enginnering if you had met this requirement in h.s. S had 3 years of Latin (made A's) so has not had to take any language in college.
  • ellemenopeellemenope Registered User Posts: 11,380 Senior Member
    Engineering/science applicants would be much better off with physics somewhere on the high school transcript. I can see the admissions committee being much more likely to say "What? No physics?!" rather than "What? No fourth year of French?!"
  • PackMomPackMom Registered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    sunshine-breeze, I was told by one admissions counselor (at a state u) that having less than the recommended number did not neceassarily mean you would not be accepted but that all those applicants who did have the recommended number (and with all other things being fairly equal) would be looked at and likely accepted ahead of those who did not.
  • nngmmnngmm Registered User Posts: 5,708 Senior Member
    I think it depends on the kind of schools he is looking at. Also, did he take non-AP high school physics? If he had no physics at all, he should take it. If he did, he might be better off with AP language. Another option is to take SAT II in his foreign language. If he scores really well (which is hard on language tests), it'll make up for the lack of 4th year, and satisfy foreign language requirement at some colleges (including Stanford).
  • acinvaacinva Registered User Posts: 616 Member
    "If a college did recommend 4 years of a language, like Princeton, how much would not having 4 years hurt an applicant?"

    As I said in an early post, it would not hurt an applicant at all who was taking AP Physics and AP Chemistry in place of the 4th year of a language.
  • over30over30 Registered User Posts: 2,411 Senior Member
    Princeton is one of the schools he's looking at. They "suggest" 4 years of a foreign language, and one year of physics, chemistry & biology which he will have if he takes AP physics. He took a college physics class last summer, but it was different material than the AP course. Maybe if the guidance counselor explains his decision to take another science instead of the 4th year of language it will help.

    And the language is Latin, so no speaking issues, but he will be rusty if he has to take it in college. And unfortunately the AP Latin teacher is not the best. He would certainly learn more taking AP Chem and AP Physics and would enjoy it far more I think. I'm not sure he could score very well on the SAT II.

    We've looked at a number of schools and they range from requiring 2 years to suggesting 4 years. He said he wished there were more hours in the school day! As it is he will have to take a math class online or at the local college because he will have taken all the math available at his high school.

    Thanks for the responses.
  • klcklc Registered User Posts: 241 Junior Member
    if a student has had no physics classes at all, i would agree w/ ellem, but many hs offer a physics class and an AP Physics. dont know the situation here... and an AP Physics over a reg 4th year lang would be better, especially if an AP Lang is offered and not chosen.

    i do know that many engineers today work in several countries and having a language is a plus. in addition, many schools are adding language requirements for graduation (Yale for one), which would indicate to me added importance.

    also, is the 4th year an AP Lang?

    the best thing is to look at specific requirements of the schools you plan to attend/apply & take your cues from the schools themselves.

    in any case, it's the red wagon syndrome.... everything depends!
  • unbelievablemunbelievablem Registered User Posts: 1,185 Senior Member
    look at the language requirements of the colleges he is looking at -- i was at one info session where the admissions officer explained what you needed to have in order to avoid having to take a language in college and there was a wave of groans as kids realized they'd blown it.
  • nngmmnngmm Registered User Posts: 5,708 Senior Member
    Actually SAT II Latin might be easier then modern languages, since there are no native speakers taking it...

    Is AP considered 4th or 5th level of lanuage at your school? (if he took "Latin 4" already, it'll count as 4 years of language for him).
  • over30over30 Registered User Posts: 2,411 Senior Member
    They take honors Latin I, II, and III, then AP. We don't even have an honors 4.
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