College Admissions Requirements

Acceptance into college has always been a major discussion for homeschooling high schoolers. With high-pressure stakes and traditional requirements such as test scores, homeschoolers may feel intimidated by the process. Oftentimes, high school success determines future college pathways, which can translate to overwhelm for parents during the high school years. Though colleges are becoming increasingly homeschool-friendly, college admissions can still be occasionally difficult for homeschooled students, depending on the type of school. 

Specifically, it can be difficult concerning test scores, especially if homeschoolers have had a flexible/unschooling experience. However, certain schools are starting to look at curriculum portfolios/documents as an alternative to SAT/ACT scores. This may be good news for homeschoolers!

Here are the sections we will discuss in this post:

  • General Testing Requirements For College Admission
  • Admissions Testing Requirements For Homeschooled Students
  • Common Alternative Requirements
  • Read Our Related Articles For More Information

General Testing Requirements For College Admission

College entrance exam scores have traditionally been required for admission. Usually, these entrance exams are either the SAT or ACT, but the CLT (the Classic Learning Test) has also become popular. Regardless of the specific exam, these tests are meant as a measurement of a student’s potential college success and readiness for college.

The accuracy of these exams has long been debated. While many people argue that the tests are an unbiased and fair evaluation of strengths versus weaknesses, others feel the tests are a one-size-fits-all model, which is to say the exams aim for everyone but are accurate for few. For minority students, gifted students, poor test-takers, or special needs, these entrance exams can be a source of stress and not an accurate representation of academic abilities.

For those reasons, it may be positive news to homeschooled students that schools are beginning to look beyond entrance exam scores. Instead, or in addition to the scores, admissions are evaluating GPAs and transcripts. Now that schools are starting to accept these admission alternatives, homeschooling parents may feel the college acceptance “playing field” has been leveled. By evaluating GPAs and coursework equally, college admissions are presenting a more holistic application experience.

However, these schools usually still accept test scores, which is helpful for students who test well and are confident in their scores.

In our research, there are three main types of schools when considering college entrance exam requirements:

  • Test-Optional — Accepts other forms of evaluation instead of exclusively the ACT/SAT/CLT scores.
  • Test-Flexible — Accepts other types of tests, uses their own placement tests, evaluates GPAs, transcripts, and extracurriculars in addition to the exam scores.
  • Test-Blind — Mainly evaluates students from SAT/ACT/CLT scores and requires those scores for each applicant. Students may be able to submit other materials, but their main academic standing is determined by entrance exam scores.

As for schools requiring extra documentation, such as an official transcript, annotated book list, or work samples, they usually still accept exam scores if students have taken the SAT/ACT/CLT. This is especially the case for homeschooling parents who may not be able to provide all of the extra documents. However, while your student is still in high school, it is a good idea to prepare and gather these documents to streamline the future process.

Admissions Requirements For Homeschooled Students

Homeschooling parents need to understand the difference between public and private universities. 

  • Community Colleges — these institutions usually have open-enrollment policies, which means they accept everyone over the age minimum.
  • Public Universities — state schools usually require a lengthier application with test scores, a diploma, and college essays. 
  • Private Universities — Private colleges are known for possibly the strictest requirements, with an emphasis on test scores, a complete, official transcript, annotated booklists, work samples, and an accredited diploma. 
  • Trade Schools — As another factor, these schools tend to have entirely different requirements as a whole. All that to say, it is a good idea to check with each school’s requirements.

Most private schools do not require all of these details but, instead, may request a combination of those elements. If your teen’s heart is set on a private university, you may want to be prepared with these documents. Similarly, if you did not use an accredited high school curriculum, it may be very helpful for your high schooler to get their GED, which is an accredited high school equivalency diploma.

Additional requirements for homeschooled applicants are not a new concept for the homeschooling scene. Over the years, homeschoolers have needed to fulfill various requests to prove high school competency, sufficient education, and potential collegiate ability. Thankfully, as home education has become more mainstream, schools have become more homeschooler-friendly. 

However, regardless of friendlier admissions, there are usually still extra steps for homeschooled applicants. Try to consider it from the school’s perspective: if the high school is not verifiable like a public/private high school, it is only fair to the other students to ensure the homeschooled students meet the admission requirements. As a side note, this may be a positive development for homeschoolers with test anxiety. As schools shift to analyzing additional documentation, students with test anxiety have greater opportunity to demonstrate their academic capabilities.

Here are a few alternatives to expect specifically for homeschooled students:

  • Coursework samples 
  • Annotated booklists
  • Signed transcript from parents
  • Proof of legal homeschooling within the state (e.g. affidavit or letter of verification)
  • Alternative test scores

Common Alternative Requirements

There are a few alternative requirements for college admission becoming increasingly popular with schools. Here is a breakdown of the traditional college application requirements versus these new options. You can think of these alternatives as “in lieu of testing,” or in conjunction with testing. As always, it’s important to check ahead with potential schools to understand exactly what they will require from a homeschooled applicant.

Traditional Requirements       Alternative Requirements
  • SAT Subject Tests
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) scores
  • CLT scores
  • Advanced Placement (AP) scores
  • A placement test score


  • Accredited high school diploma/GED
  • Certificate of high school completion
  • Letter of verification
  • Community college credit
  • Non-accredited homeschool diploma
  • CLEP tests
  • A placement test


  • Official transcript
  • Homeschool transcripts
  • An annotated booklist 
    • Note: though not widespread, certain colleges are requiring ISBNs on these booklists.
  • Coursework samples for each high school grade.
  • A portfolio with samples, test scores, and projects. (Portfolios are often already required by many state laws.)
  • Overall high school GPA + breakdown per course.


  • College essays
  • Essays + recommendations

Read Our Related Articles For More Information