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Articles / Applying to College / Is Speaking Multiple Languages an Ivy League Hook?

Is Speaking Multiple Languages an Ivy League Hook?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Nov. 8, 2016

Question: Hi, I would like to know something for Ivy League schools; would I a be considered as a competitive applicant if I could speak (and write…) in 4 languages, would that make me standout?

While “The Dean" certainly envies your ability to speak four languages, these days it won't make you a stand-out in Ivy admission offices. There are many students who apply to the most sought-after US colleges and universities who came of age across cultures and can transition fluidly from one tongue to the next. There are also countless stay-at-home students who are language buffs and have thus acquired fluency though classes and self-study.

However, admission committees might be quite interested in the specific languages you speak and how you learned them, if they are uncommon ones. If you grew up in a diplomatic household or, conversely, as an immigrant or refugee or if you have some other atypical story to tell, this could help you to stand out in a crowd.

But, unlike the (very) old days when “The Dean" was in high school, being a polyglot today is commendable and could serve you well throughout your life, but it usually won't provide an inside track to an elite college.

¡Buena suerte! Buona fortuna! Sterkte! Held og lykke! Powodzenia!

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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