With the increasing focus on diversity, globally-minded education, and marketable skills, many schools look at foreign language education as an important component in their admissions process. But what if you don’t have that? While many high school programs (or high school equivalent programs) have a language requirement, there are plenty of reasons why you may have missed these types of classes. For example, maybe you didn’t enroll out of personal preference. Maybe you were an ESL student, or were placed on another special education track that focused more on communication skills and literacy in your first language. While this might throw a bit of a wrench into your school search process, it’s not necessarily a barrier to higher education. Colleges with no foreign language requirement at the admissions stage could be the perfect choice for you.
How to Find Colleges with No Foreign Language Requirement for Admission
Searching for colleges with no foreign language requirement for admission may add a few steps to your preparation, search, and application processes. For one, that’s because you may need to do a little more legwork to get the information at all. While some schools may formally advertise this on their website, in other cases, you might need to talk to admissions to find out more about what they look for and how important your language classes and lack thereof may be in the broader context of your application.
One important thing to look for on your target schools’ websites: the recommended high school or college preparatory program. Many schools list their high school requirements for college admission. Often, that includes how many years they want you to study that subject. On these lists, you might find two clarifications:
- Required Courses: These—often found in core subjects like language arts and mathematics—are courses the school won’t consider you at all without. In some cases, the required courses may vary depending on your intended major. For example, people intent on declaring a STEM major are likely to need more experience in math and science. If you already know what major you want to study when you attend college, it may be helpful to bring this up when looking at a school, to make sure there aren’t any additional requirements.
- Recommended Courses: These are courses that you don’t necessarily need in order to be accepted, but the school has a preference for them. In many cases, world language requirements may fall into the “recommended” category. Some schools may specify that language courses are “strongly recommended,” meaning that it’s possible to be accepted without them, but it’s still a pretty big obstacle.
Tips for Applying to College Without Foreign Language Classes
If a school you want to attend recommends but doesn’t require language education, you may be required to or benefit from providing context for not having taken those classes. Basically, if possible, you’d want to find a way to explain this or frame it as a positive. Here are a few examples of how students might try and do this.
- A Challenging Curriculum: Maybe you opted out of world language classes, because you were too busy challenging yourself in other ways. For example, maybe you pursued a rigorous science and math education in place of language. Demonstrating hard work and success in other areas may help to offset not having taken a language. However, this strategy may work better in some schools and programs than in others, because it depends heavily on their priorities.
- English as a Second Language: If you’re an English Language Learner, maybe it didn’t make sense for you to take another foreign language. After all, you already speak one! If this is the case for you, you might have some unique application requirements anyway. On one hand, demonstrating fluency (including literacy) in your first language may be sufficient to overcome the foreign language requirement on your college application. On the other, you may also need to demonstrate fluency in English, such as by sitting for an English Proficiency test like the TOEFL, and submitting your results.
- Extenuating Circumstances: Other unique situations may help to explain your lack of opportunity or your decision not to take foreign language classes. For example, special education programs at some secondary schools may replace their foreign language elements with additional communication or study skills courses. If that’s the case for you, consider using this as evidence that you’ve worked hard to overcome challenges to find success in your education. You may still need to take additional language classes at the university level, but could still help you show your study skills, dedication, and hard work in a positive light.
Each of the above may be useful strategies to keep in mind if you need to try and compensate for college language requirements. But not all of them are right for everybody, or right for every school! Before enacting any of them, it may be a good idea to have a conversation with your admissions advisors at the schools in question, to find out more about their application priorities and any advice they might have. If you’re still in high school, you might also consider talking it through with your guidance counselor, who may have additional advice or feedback.
Some Schools with No Foreign Language Requirement for Admission
Unfortunately, even schools without a foreign language requirement might still prefer to see that kind of experience if possible. What that means for your college search is that you might have better luck finding schools that only recommend it rather than ones that don’t care about foreign language education at all. Below are several examples of schools that don’t have foreign language education as an application requirement. Remember that each school’s prerequisites for admission are subject to change. As such, make sure you review each school’s stated high school requirements for college admission, or follow up with your admissions counselor for more updated details.
Arcadia University prioritizes a well-rounded educational background in their application process. While they do include foreign language education in their recommended high school curriculum (they prefer two years or units in the same language), it’s not technically a requirement. Overall, they tend to look for success in a rigorous program, with a well-rounded course selection. As such, if you can demonstrate those qualities without having all of their recommended courses (e.g. language), they advise students to apply anyway with the promise that their application would still be considered.
Arcadia University is a private university located outside of Philadelphia. They were founded in 1853, and their athletics teams compete in NCAA Division III. They serve 2,473 undergrads and 1,312 graduate students. They also boast a 10:1 student to faculty ratio, small classes, and a vibrant campus culture. Arcadia is also well known for their wealth of study-abroad opportunities, and for the high level of participation in those programs from their students. In US News & World Report 2018, they were ranked 48 among Regional Universities North.
Adelphi University approaches their admissions process holistically, and prioritizes academic rigor on your high school transcripts. As such, while they do have a list of recommended or preferred courses they look for, they say that they evaluate each application on its own merits. In that vein, Adelphi does recommend two to three units of a foreign language. But since it’s not an explicit requirement, you may still be considered without it, provided that you can still meet the other requirements and demonstrate success in a challenging high school curriculum otherwise.
Adelphi is the oldest private co-educational university on Long Island. It was founded in 1896, and today serves more than 7,600 students at its main campus alone. They were ranked multiple times by US News & World Report in 2018, including categories like National Universities, Business Programs, High School Counselor Rankings, Online Bachelors Programs, and multiple subject-specific graduate programs lists.
California University of Pennsylvania
California University of Pennsylvania does list a series of required high school courses, including language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies (or something with equivalent course content). However, by comparison, two years of foreign language education is listed only as a recommendation. Overall, they evaluate the whole package of scholastic achievement, test scores, extracurricular activities, your interview, letters of recommendation, and other elements together. That could potentially give you a bunch of opportunities to demonstrate your other achievements in a positive light.
California University of Pennsylvania, or CAL U, is located south of Pittsburgh in California, PA. They serve more than 7,500 undergrads and graduate students. They were founded in 1852, and are a member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. In 2018, they were recognized by the Princeton Review as among the Best Northeastern Colleges.
When evaluating applicants, Duquesne University prioritizes your academic GPA and overall rigor of coursework over foreign language experience and credits. They also look at standardized test scores, and volunteer and leadership experience. While they recommend two consecutive years of a foreign language in high school, they do not list it as an actual requirement. That said, some individual degree programs may include additional prerequisites. It’s possible that the program you choose may have different prerequisites.
Duquesne was founded by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in 1878, and became known as Duquesne in 1911. Today, they serve more than nine thousand students, with a fourteen to one student-faculty ratio. They offer 80 undergraduate degree programs, and 85 graduate programs, and a robust online offering. In US News & World Report 2018, they ranked in multiple categories. These included National Universities, Best Colleges for Veterans, Best Value, Business Programs, and High School Counselor Rankings.
Find Colleges with No Foreign Language Requirement
Don’t let college foreign language requirements hold you back from getting the education you want. Find and apply to schools with no foreign language requirement with eLearners! If one of the above schools sounds promising, click through to learn more about it, and contact them for more information or to apply. To get matched with even more schools, use the form on this page.