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    Originally Posted by 22B
    Thanks, Bostonian. I have nothing against people doing whatever extracurriculars they want for fun and fulfilment. But it seems universities are misusing them to favor some applicants at the expense of others.

    -------------------------

    Another issue I thought of regarding admissions is foreign languages. Some universities want four years of high school foreign language credit (Harvard, Princeton), while some (MIT, Caltech) just want some foreign language credit but don't really say how much, meaning maybe two is enough if other qualifications are strong.

    Two years of foreign language is sufficient for high school graduation, and most universities also seem to think this is sufficient for admission.

    So what do people think is the prudent approach for learning foreign languages when it comes to university admissions?

    When I had interviews with Canadian schools, I was paired with a foreign language speaker and conducted part of the interview in that language in addition to English. Not sure if US schools have a similar approach.

    I'm a skeptic when it comes to foreign language instruction. DH spent 9 years in French courses through high school graduation and can't order a sandwich when we go out. As HK says, it's really a question of the intensity of instruction. I would insist on my DS being taught by native speakers. There's just no comparison. I would argue you don't know a language until you think in it, so 2 vs 4 years is really quite irrelevant from a fluency perspective, but admissions may be a different story.


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    Originally Posted by 22B
    Another issue I thought of regarding admissions is foreign languages. Some universities want four years of high school foreign language credit (Harvard, Princeton), while some (MIT, Caltech) just want some foreign language credit but don't really say how much, meaning maybe two is enough if other qualifications are strong.

    Two years of foreign language is sufficient for high school graduation, and most universities also seem to think this is sufficient for admission.

    So what do people think is the prudent approach for learning foreign languages when it comes to university admissions?

    Originally Posted by aquinas
    I'm a skeptic when it comes to foreign language instruction. DH spent 9 years in French courses through high school graduation and can't order a sandwich when we go out. As HK says, it's really a question of the intensity of instruction. I would insist on my DS being taught by native speakers. There's just no comparison. I would argue you don't know a language until you think in it, so 2 vs 4 years is really quite irrelevant from a fluency perspective, but admissions may be a different story.

    Right. Harvard and Princeton just say they want four years of high school foreign language credit, so technically speaking, they don't actually require that you can order a sandwich when you go out.

    The question is, should you do the full four years of high school foreign language, just for the long shot chance of a couple/few elite universities, when most places don't require that much. (On the other hand, how would it be if you would have been accepted into one of these places, but weren't for the sole reason that you didn't satisify their language requirement.)

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    Originally Posted by kcab
    Five or 6 year rates are typically used in comparison of undergrad completion rates. There are a variety of very good reasons why an undergrad might take longer than 4 years, including doing a year abroad, deciding to double major, a program that incorporates an internship semester or year, or just plain needing to work to earn money to keep going. (The last was surprisingly common when and where I was an undergrad.) Also, I'm not sure how gap years are counted.

    I did five years just in engineering.

    I switched from engineering science to civil engineering to chemical engineering (all the while keeping the actual engineering portion of my scholarship).

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    A double major in STEM + humanities/social science can also lead to a five year program through no fault of either the institution or the student, too.

    The problem becomes one of scheduling; frequently the upper division coursework in STEM come with 4:1 lab credit ratios, and a two hour lab is therefore more like an 8 hour per week commitment. Math may be a 4/week, most lecture sections are MWF in STEM, while LABS fill T/TH... and this isn't always compatible with the humanities schedule in the upper division courses, which may use a T/TH lecture with a Fri discussion/lab.



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    Just got off the phone with a prospective college program-- to find out what I could re: the selectivity and how my DD's age and educational history would be viewed by the admissions committee. This because they evidently rejected one of my DD's good friends last year-- who graduated among the top 5 in the class, with honors, and had volunteer service, etc.

    Admissions to the program in the previous 3 yr has gone from 70% to 50% to 30%. Which isn't good, by any means. :-/

    Still, the person was cordial and professional, and encouraging re: my daughter's chances of admission to the program should she apply.

    I also got some whiff of "maturity concerns," but well-disguised. I suppose that I asked for that, in a way-- but I seriously wanted to know. I gently pointed out that a 15yo applicant who has EC's that look "like other students' accomplishments" has likely had to be FAR more determined and creative in order to make that happen. Which is when she revealed her bias...

    As in, yes, they may be ready for the academic work... but there are studies that show... (Yes, I'm well aware. I'm also well aware that if you've met ONE highly gifted teen, you've met ONE highly gifted teen, tyvm, something which seems to have escaped this person.)


    They do not accept letters of recommendation, this program. The institution which houses it is otherwise not an appropriate academic setting for DD, so it's this or not attend this particular institution.

    I'm going to talk with someone whose older child (also PG and early college) was accepted into the program-- then again, that was several years ago, before the selectivity was so extreme. The OTHER flagship in-state has an even lower acceptance rate into its honors college-- just ~15% last year, and also falling.


    So much for a cheaper and less high-pressure alternative. eek


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    Not sure if anyone has (yet) posted this particular article here in this thread:

    Application Inflation

    Honestly, at $50-100 each, I'm astonished that nobody has yet figured out how much revenue this means for some institutions. I mean, sure-- it's not that it's running the football program or anything. But still, it's a BIG chunk of change.



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    Originally Posted by 22B
    Originally Posted by 22B
    Another issue I thought of regarding admissions is foreign languages. Some universities want four years of high school foreign language credit (Harvard, Princeton), while some (MIT, Caltech) just want some foreign language credit but don't really say how much, meaning maybe two is enough if other qualifications are strong.

    Two years of foreign language is sufficient for high school graduation, and most universities also seem to think this is sufficient for admission.

    So what do people think is the prudent approach for learning foreign languages when it comes to university admissions?

    Originally Posted by aquinas
    I'm a skeptic when it comes to foreign language instruction. DH spent 9 years in French courses through high school graduation and can't order a sandwich when we go out. As HK says, it's really a question of the intensity of instruction. I would insist on my DS being taught by native speakers. There's just no comparison. I would argue you don't know a language until you think in it, so 2 vs 4 years is really quite irrelevant from a fluency perspective, but admissions may be a different story.

    Right. Harvard and Princeton just say they want four years of high school foreign language credit, so technically speaking, they don't actually require that you can order a sandwich when you go out.

    The question is, should you do the full four years of high school foreign language, just for the long shot chance of a couple/few elite universities, when most places don't require that much. (On the other hand, how would it be if you would have been accepted into one of these places, but weren't for the sole reason that you didn't satisify their language requirement.)

    Also, I suppose this goes back to the question of why we're being educated in the first place--is it for sheepskin effect or actual ability? Personally, I'd favour ability over prestige.

    I'm surprised they don't use scores from a test of a foreign language, what with the popularity of standardized tests in the US.


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    Shhhhh. Don't give anyone any bright ideas, okay??

    wink




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    I took a lot of French in Canada and couldn't order a sandwich now. French is practically a dead language in my opinion. You don't use it unless you have a mid level job in government in Canada and then it is hit and miss. Since I left Canada 2 years after school, no one spoke French. I take that back. One time I was in France going to the Renault factory and the limo driver got lost. I yelled at him, demanded the map, and proceeded to direct him. But I wasn't fluent. Enough to demand "la carte, la carte".

    DD takes Mandarin and had Spanish in school since K. Now she will have to take French until grade 8 but can switch back to Spanish.

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