... Look for a curriculum that offers you an international perspective and an opportunity to study languages. Although college is about learning, it's also about acquiring the necessary skills to land a job when you've graduated. World language skills have increasingly become a differentiator for hiring managers among graduates. Even if you're not proficient, a solid working knowledge of another language indicates an openness to and appreciation for other cultures, a critical 21st century skill.
A recent study by the National Security Education Program via its "Language Flagship," involving surveys and focus groups among more than 100 senior U.S. executives, concluded that increasing language and cultural skills is "critical" to American business, for everything from developing and keeping new deals, to overseas marketing, to winning the global war for talent. As one survey participant said, "the lack of language skills among U.S. business[people] is an enormous barrier to increasing U.S. participation in overseas markets."
But it's more than business leaders demanding an increase in language speakers to fill jobs. The U.S. Department of Defense's own recruitment site notes "an urgent and growing need for Americans with foreign language skills," especially in high-demand languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Kurdish, Pashto, Persian, Farsi, Tagalog, Russian, Somali, Turkish and Urdu/Punjabi. Congressional Subcommittees on Defense, Intelligence and National Security regularly hear reports on how our security and intelligence efforts are stymied by a lack of qualified language professionals among U.S. citizens.
Universities value language skills, too. In a report on National Defense Education, the American Association of Universities ranks foreign language education as highly as "STEM" (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning for both national security and economic strength. Most competitive colleges look quite favorably on applicants with four years of secondary school classwork in one language.
There are jobs for people who speak more than English, but not many Americans do. ... Consider choosing a college based partly on your language needs. No matter what career you're considering, language proficiencies matter to employers. Make sure before you matriculate that the institution will meet your personal and career goals when it comes to language learning. ...