According to the O'Toole survey of New York State and selected other four-year-colleges, 48% require three years of foreign language study as a minimum for their applicants. Four or more years are better. Four years of a language does not guarantee a fluent speaker--after four years of Spanish, I couldn't understand a native speaker to save my life--but it does look good on the college application.
But how to do choose what language to study? Spanish is obviously very important in this hemisphere, but less so worldwide. Business majors may think about Japanese. But, in eighth grade, when you have no idea what you want to do with your life, how do you choose? A couple web pages offer food for thought:
Why Study French?
Why Study German?
(Of course, the compelling reason to study German in my junior high was the German Club's annual ski trip!)
Haven't found arguments in favor of Spanish and Japanese yet. Stay tuned.