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Articles / Applying to College / College Options for Junior with No Foreign Language Study
Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Jan. 22, 2018

College Options for Junior with No Foreign Language Study

Question: I'm more than halfway through my Junior year and I haven't taken a single foreign language class. My mom wants me to go for University of Illinois or another selective school but they have a 2 year foreign language requirement. Am I basically screwed?

You’re not basically screwed but you’re potentially screwed. Many colleges, including the University of Illinois, require two years of a language other than English for admission, and often the more selective colleges expect three years (and may even prefer four).  There are colleges that don’t require any foreign language at all, but those options are rather limiting.


If you have a learning disability and did not study language because of it, it’s possible that colleges that ordinarily demand a foreign language will let you wheedle out of it. But you'll need documentation of your disability and the support of your counselor. If you don’t have a pertinent LD diagnosis, your best bet would be to take a foreign language class over the summer (a full “year” can be crammed into eight weeks or fewer) and then continue with the second year in the fall. Alternatively, if your high school happens to be on a "block" schedule, where students take full-year classes in just one semester, you could actually squeeze in an entire language requirement in 12th grade (e.g., Spanish I in the first semester and Spanish II in the second).

Note also that at a lot of colleges (including Illinois) the study of American Sign Language will fulfill the language requirement. So if learning ASL meshes with your interests or long-term goals, that’s an option you can consider as well.

You should be able to find an appropriate summer class at a local community college or four-year college, at a public high school or prep school summer program or even online. Because the spring semester is just starting at most colleges, you might even be able to take a night or weekend class at a nearby college now, but you’d have to act fast to enroll.

So it’s not too late to meet the requirements at your top choice colleges, but don’t dawdle. If you do, you won’t just be “basically” screwed but more like totally screwed!

 Buena suerte ·  Boa sorte ·  Bona sort  ·  Bedrud  ·  Bonne chance

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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