There is a reason why colleges ask applicants to list foreign languages that applicants are fluent in, and why admissions officers assess applicants high school transcripts and SAT II foreign language scores: college admissions officers value foreign language skills. Moreover, many colleges have a foreign language requirement for their students and encourage them to study abroad to improve their foreign language abilities.
Colleges recognize that their graduates must be prepared to work in an increasingly global market for talent and ideas. By demonstrating competence in a foreign language before college, an applicant can signal to an admissions officer that she will propel a college’s efforts to prepare its students for the global workplace.
Embarking on the path to becoming fluent in a foreign language may be one of the best things a future college student can do in middle and high school. Not only will a student strengthen her college application, she will also be setting herself up for success for applying to grad school and jobs after college. Many medical schools give preference to applicants who are fluent in Spanish as their hospitals cater to Spanish-speaking populations. Numerous financial services firms, marketing firms, and tech companies also seek applicants able to work in emerging markets like China and Latin America.
Consider foreign languages that will help not just with the college application process, but also with the job market after college. My ability to speak fluent Spanish landed me a coveted Wall Street internship in college that I probably would not have gotten if I did not speak Spanish. Spanish and Mandarin are particularly useful as Latin America and China are the US’ two biggest trade partners.