Generally speaking, highly competitive universities require high schools to have at least two years of foreign language courses. As you will see below, Stanford wants to see three years or more, while Harvard urges applicants to spend four years. These courses should be in the same language – universities prefer to see proficiency in several languages that are more superficial than one. When a university recommends “two years or more” a language, they make it clear that more than two years of language learning will strengthen your application. In fact, no matter where you apply for college, mastering a second language will improve your chances of being admitted. College life and life after graduation are becoming increasingly globalized, so the ability to speak a second language is very important for admission counselors. That is to say, if their application shows advantages in other fields, only the minimum number of students can win admission. Some less competitive schools do not even have high school language requirements, and assume that some students will learn a language once they enter the university. If you score 4 or 5 on the AP Language Examination, most universities will consider evidence that high school foreign languages are well prepared (and that you are likely to earn course credits at college). Check with the schools you apply for to see what their early admission policy is. Generally speaking, universities want to see foreign language proficiency. They don’t care which language you study. In fact, most students have little choice. Many schools offer only two languages, such as French and Spanish. That is to say, if your foreign language learning is consistent with your career goals, it will be an advantage. Both German and Chinese are valuable languages for business-interested students. They have strong French skills and are ideal for those who want to teach English or engage in public health work in French-speaking African countries. In 2018, when the admissions director of Harvard University testified in court about the school’s admissions policy, he revealed that students studying Greek and Latin were interested in ancient classics and had a slight advantage over many other applicants. Overall, however, learn the language you are most interested in. Let your passion guide you. Where are you most interested in traveling? What language is most likely to intersect with your future plans? If you could study abroad, where would you go?