right arrow
Informational Message Stay on top of the information you need to navigate the admissions process amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We've got articles, videos and forum discussions that provide answers to all of your test prep, admissions and college search questions.   Visit our COVID-19 resource page.

Introducing Kai!
Your College Confidential guide bot.


Kai can provide tips and support as you research and apply to colleges, and explore majors and careers.





Chat with Kai
here, 24/7!


or Skip Forever

IMPORTANT NEWS: CC Forums are now in read-only mode as the team is working on the transition to a new, modern forum platform with enhanced features. We anticipate full service on the site to return by Friday, Nov. 27 at 2:00pm ET. Read more about this here!

What level language is needed for semi-competitive college admissions?

ruthstoopsruthstoops 52 replies25 threads Junior Member
Hello all - My child, a sophomore, has stepped up this year to all honors, doing great but next year I think it will be a lot more intense back in person. He is in level 3 Latin, but hardly any kids are in Latin 4 or 5. His counselor last year floated the idea of skipping language junior year and picking it back up - because colleges want to see you taking a language senior year. Could he end at this year, at level 3 or is that really going to ding him. We are not seeking tippy anything, but he's doing better than we initially thought academically. Skipping a year doesn't seem wise, but I have no clue.
14 replies
· Reply · Share

Replies to: What level language is needed for semi-competitive college admissions?

  • aunt beaaunt bea 10566 replies74 threads Senior Member
    You asked this exact question a year ago. Was it not answered sufficiently?
    Has the guidance counselor brought this up again?

    All three of my children took four years equivalency of a foreign language because the competitive colleges wanted to see proficiency. They got into their very strong schools without an issue.
    No they didn’t take it senior year because, in our schools, the students can take beginning foreign language in eighth grade. They needed their senior year to concentrate on polishing their apps , having their midyear reports sent, and finishing up all of their senior requirements .
    · Reply · Share
  • skieuropeskieurope 42310 replies8428 threads Super Moderator
    ruthstoops wrote: »
    His counselor last year floated the idea of skipping language junior year and picking it back up - because colleges want to see you taking a language senior year.

    Here is my answer from when you asked last year. My thoughts have not changed.
    skieurope wrote: »
    I think something was lost in the translation if the GC is advising students (or are not correcting misinformation) to skip FL in junior year to take as a senior. I am 100% positive that no college official said that this was a good idea.

    · Reply · Share
  • happy1happy1 24694 replies2511 threads Super Moderator
    edited November 20
    A few comments:

    -- Agree that the answer won't change from last year.

    -- Colleges care about what level of a language a student has taken, not what years of HS a student has taken the course.

    --It makes no sense to skip foreign language for junior year and then try to pick it back up senior year. The year gap will just make the coursework more difficult.

    --You can check the common data set of any college your child is considering (google "common data set XYZ University) and look at section C to determine how man years of foreign language is required/recommended for each particular school.
    edited November 20
    Post edited by happy1 on
    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 85298 replies761 threads Senior Member
    Another thing to consider is that colleges may have foreign language graduation requirements that may be higher than their admission requirements. Taking language to a higher level in high school may give higher placement in college foreign language to allow completing the graduation requirement in fewer courses.
    · Reply · Share
  • Data10Data10 3491 replies11 threads Senior Member
    Regarding the thread title, "What level language is needed for semi-competitive college admissions?". Language requirements/recommendations vary quite a bit between different colleges. I expect there are also different expectations for different applicants, depending on things like what field they plan to study and what courses were available at their HS.

    2, 3, or 4 years of foreign languages may be recommended. Some colleges recommend a particular number of years of courses taken during HS. Others instead specify the maximum level achieved, regardless of whether courses were taken in MS or HS. Others give vague guidelines and instead recommend varying according to interests.. You can find some specific details in the CDS and often on websites of the colleges that interest you. For example,

    Cornell Arts & Sciences says -- "It is our strong preference that students complete 3 units of one foreign language during high school, however, students who have initiated a foreign language sequence before high school or who have heritage language skills that allow them to place directly into a higher level course will have met our minimum requirement by completing at least the third level of a foreign language sequence (e.g., Spanish 3)."

    Cornell Engineering instead specifies math and science requirements up to calculus, but appears to only recommend that applicants take an unspecified number of years foreign language, like they recommend taking unspecified years of computer science. Other tech-focused colleges often have similar more relaxed requirements. Some specify high level math and science requirements up to calculus, yet only vaguely recommend 2 years foreign language.

    I am not aware of any college that implies a preference for foreign language in senior year more so than junior year. Selective colleges with holistic admissions will see the full transcript, rather than just the list of senior year courses.
    · Reply · Share
  • thumper1thumper1 79360 replies3583 threads Senior Member
    I’m not aware of any college that would suggest taking junior year off from a foreign language and resuming it senior year is preferential to just taking that course junior year.

    Plus think about it. Does it really make sense to not study something like a FL for a year and the just expect to jump right back into it?

    I would love to know which colleges this high school counselor thinks have this policy. Really...ask...because I think this just is NOT fact.
    · Reply · Share
  • RichInPittRichInPitt 3214 replies53 threads Senior Member
    I guess I missed this last year....

    I agree that skipping Junior year and taking it Senior year makes no sense. I’ve never heard anyone from a college, or anywhere, say they want to specifically see it Senior year. Getting to x number of years consecutively would be much easier than skipping a year.

    Regarding what x is - it depends. Assuming “semi-competitive” means skipping over the top 20-30 “elite”/“selective”/whatever you want to call them, I’ve seen three years as sufficient. More might be a small benefit, but not a substantial one. Many schools only require two. I’m sure students are admitted with two, but I think the advantage of three over two is more than four over three.

    If it was me, and the student didn’t have a strong interest in Latin, given the semi competitive tag (which wouldn’t include Cornell, for me), I’d stop after Latin 3.
    · Reply · Share
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43463 replies473 threads Senior Member
    Is it the possible the GC understood the opposite of what college adcomes said?
    Because FL, like math, is sequential. You can't skip a year - the loss during 14 months makes it nearly impossible to start again at the right speed/level. In the same way that you couldn't take Algebra2, take a year off, do zero math of any kind, then expect to jump into precalculus without major trouble, you cannot take Latin 3 and wait a year then expect to jump into Latin 4.
    What colleges generally want is level 3 (selective 4 year colleges) or level 4 or AP (highly selective colleges, roughly all within top 40 national universities&LACs). Continuous study is expected through level 3, 4, or AP.
    (Level 2 is minimal for college entrance).
    If a student discontinued Latin for a year, then jumped into Latin 4 "cold", they'd likely have a very bad 1st quarter in the subject :(.
    · Reply · Share
  • Data10Data10 3491 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited November 22
    RichInPitt wrote: »
    Regarding what x is - it depends. Assuming “semi-competitive” means skipping over the top 20-30 “elite”/“selective”/whatever you want to call them, I’ve seen three years as sufficient. More might be a small benefit, but not a substantial one. Many schools only require two. I’m sure students are admitted with two, but I think the advantage of three over two is more than four over three.

    If it was me, and the student didn’t have a strong interest in Latin, given the semi competitive tag (which wouldn’t include Cornell, for me), I’d stop after Latin 3.
    I used Cornell as an example because they go in to detail about foreign language years completed in MS vs HS, and it demonstrates that other factors besides "competitiveness" influence how many years language is required/recommended.

    There are many colleges that recommend 2, 3, or 4; at other levels of selectivity as well. Few, if any, say that all successful applicants are required to take 4 years of foreign language, but quite a few say applicants are strongly encouraged to take 4 years, or similar wording. Some colleges say 4 years is preferred, but only for applicants to a specific subschool. For example, UMichigan says, "First-year applicants to the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts are strongly encouraged to take four years of language study, but only two years of the same language are required for admission (American Sign Language is included)." It's only applicants to the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts that are "strongly encouraged" to take 4 years of foreign language. UM''s website does not imply applicants to engineering, nursing, art, theater, ... are strongly encouraged to take more than 2 years.

    If Michigan is too selective to be 'semi-competitive", the first college that came up in a Google search was Wabasch College, which is a small LAC in Indiana that accepts most applicants. Their website says, "2 years of one foreign language; 4 years are preferred" -- similar to UMichigan CLS.

    There are also plenty of highly and less selective colleges that give no indication that more than 2 years is preferred, as well as plenty that require or strongly prefer 3 years. It's best to look up the colleges that interest you, rather than making assumptions based on USNWR ranking or perceived selectivity.
    edited November 22
    · Reply · Share
  • blossomblossom 10705 replies9 threads Senior Member
    Reality check- it doesn't matter if your kid is so outstanding in some other area that the Adcom's agree that this is a "must admit"- his original concerto is debuting at Carnegie Hall once Covid is over; a recruitable athlete with sky high scores and grades; a published novel.

    OP- if this is your kid, relax. No single "missing" element on the transcript is going to matter much.

    If this is not your kid- you guys need to focus. The point is not to check off boxes on a list- the point is to show a rigorous, academic preparation for college level work, meaning don't start cutting corners (miss junior year language to "prove"" something-- since a kid skipping a year generally means losing proficiency.

    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 85298 replies761 threads Senior Member
    Data10 wrote: »
    If Michigan is too selective to be 'semi-competitive", the first college that came up in a Google search was Wabasch College, which is a small LAC in Indiana that accepts most applicants. Their website says, "2 years of one foreign language; 4 years are preferred" -- similar to UMichigan CLS.

    More examples of foreign language admission requirements or recommendations that encompass "semi-competitive" (however defined) admission colleges:

    CSU and UC systems in California: level (year) 2 or equivalent required.

    UC: level (year) 3 or equivalent recommended.

    CPSLO: extra admission points for each semester beyond 4 semesters (up to 8 semesters).
    · Reply · Share
  • SweetgumSweetgum 142 replies3 threads Junior Member
    My D22 is skipping language this year and may pick it back up next year. She completed Spanish 3 last year (sophomore year) and asked to take Spanish IV this year, but it didn't work with her schedule so she just wasn't able to do it. I don't think it will hurt her any in her ability with Spanish to skip this year and I doubt it would hurt her for the US colleges she would be likely to apply to. She's been lucky to always have Spanish as a special through elementary school and when she got to middle school (6-12 school) she took high school Spanish 1 and 2. They tried to put her in Spanish 3 honors in 8th grade, but she didn't really want to do it with all the high school juniors and seniors so she held off. Ended up she didn't take it until last year and the time off didn't hurt her. Still got an A. She is not fluent in Spanish, but she can manage to understand if the speaker doesn't talk too fast and can usually make herself understood. Languages are pretty easy for her.
    · Reply · Share
  • SJ2727SJ2727 3018 replies16 threads Senior Member
    edited November 22
    blossom wrote: »
    Reality check- it doesn't matter if your kid is so outstanding in some other area that the Adcom's agree that this is a "must admit"- his original concerto is debuting at Carnegie Hall once Covid is over; a recruitable athlete with sky high scores and grades; a published novel.

    OP- if this is your kid, relax. No single "missing" element on the transcript is going to matter much.

    If this is not your kid- you guys need to focus. The point is not to check off boxes on a list- the point is to show a rigorous, academic preparation for college level work, meaning don't start cutting corners (miss junior year language to "prove"" something-- since a kid skipping a year generally means losing proficiency.

    Agree. Data point of 1, my kid: 3 years FL, 3 years lab science (one being the sometimes questionable APES) admitted (unhooked) at a college that says at least 3 years but its most competitive applicants have 4 years of “demanding coursework” in these. If the college is holistic, the entire application matters. If you can do it, do it, but it is absolutely not always true that “recommended really means required” as is often stated on CC.
    edited November 22
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity