Most high schools require their students to study a foreign language for just a year or two. It is up to students to decide whether they want to extend this subject into their junior and senior years.
Why might you take “extra” years of foreign language? Many colleges, especially highly selective ones, want to see more than the minimum in this area.
Fortunately, colleges won’t leave you guessing as to their specific preferences—they will post their foreign language recommendations/requirements in the admissions section of their website. (This information is also available in The Princeton Review’s Best 377 Colleges guidebook.)
If you don’t yet know where you will apply, Montgomery Educational Consulting says you can make an educated guess regarding the prerequisites for admission you might face. Specifically—the more selective the colleges to which you expect to apply, the more likely you will encounter three- and four-year foreign language recommendations/requirements. (Note: at highly selective schools, “recommendations” in this area are pretty much mandatory.)
Of course, your enjoyment of and aptitude for your chosen foreign language should also factor into your decision. To read more on this topic, check out this post from Montgomery Educational Consulting.