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Articles / Applying to College / Stopping Spanish After 9th Grade?

June 25, 2016

Stopping Spanish After 9th Grade?

Question: I took Spanish 1 in 7th grade, Spanish 2 in 8th grade, and Spanish 3 in 9th grade. Would it be recommended to take spanish 4 and/or AP? Also, if I just do three years and not move onto Spanish 4 and/or AP spanish, would it count as the “2 years in highschool" I need not to take it in college.

The more selective colleges will penalize you for not taking Spanish in high school through at least Spanish 4, and ideally AP. The most competitive colleges like to see four years of the SAME foreign language. And some colleges, even less selective ones, will count your two middle school years as just one. So if you take only Spanish 3 in 9th grade and don't continue, you will have fulfilled a two-year language requirement … but just barely.


My own son was in a similar situation. He'd finished Spanish 4 by the end of 10th grade and really didn't like the Spanish program at his high school so he decided to quit. But then he took three semesters of Portuguese at a local college. While he probably would have been okay at college-admission time with just the Spanish he'd completed, I do think that his transcript looked better because he didn't drop all foreign language at the end of his sophomore year.

But keep in mind that, once you get to college, foreign language requirements will vary greatly. Some colleges have no requirement at all; a few will demand that you study a new language even if you have taken many years of an old one; and many will only let you out of their language requirement if you score well on an SAT Subject Test, on an AP exam, or on the college's own proficiency test. So the number of years of Spanish that you take in high school may not necessarily get you off the hook for language study in college.

Thus my advice to you –in order to keep your options most open—would be to stick with Spanish through Spanish 4 and then decide if you want to go on to AP. And if you don't, consider trying another language—either at your own high school or perhaps at a nearby college or via a summer program. It's not imperative but it would be a plus on your applications and, hopefully, valuable to you personally (or, eventually, professionally) as well.

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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