College Admissions Requirements for High Schoolers

October 7, 2020
Written by:
Jamie Gaddy


When your child is ready to enter high school, it is important to begin to establish goals in order to create an academic and extracurricular activity plan. If higher education of some kind is in that educational plan, then these goals should be based on the type of college your child plans to attend.

Public high schools usually have more than one option when it comes to diplomas – – there is no reason that homeschoolers can’t too!  Options include a standard diploma, college preparatory diploma, technical diploma, career preparatory diploma, special education diploma, and a certificate of achievement. For the sake of this discussion, we are speaking of a “diploma” not as the paper achievement certificate received  at graduation, but rather as a specific track that a student chooses to follow based on his or her educational goals.

Choosing a specific educational track will help you decide which courses to take during high school. When creating a high school plan with your child, it is essential that you select courses that will at least meet the minimum requirements of the type of college or university your child is interested in applying to. Below is a chart to give you an example of what each type of college or university is looking for:

Note: Credits usually equate to approximately one school year of study. Check out our Guide to High School Credits for Homeschool for more information.

Keep in mind that the above guide does not include extracurricular activities, which many colleges and universities also look for. While no one activity is held above another, each needs to demonstrate your commitment, sense of community, or leadership skills. While not listed on the above table of educational requirements, community colleges are also an excellent choice for continuing your student’s education.  Most community colleges are open enrollment, which means that students need only to meet the minimum age requirement and possess a diploma or GED. However, many specific academic programs within community colleges, such as nursing, allied health, law enforcement, engineering, or computer technology may have additional high school credit requirements for applicants. It’s important to research the requirements of the specific academic program the student is interested in.

In addition, Ivy League and elite institutions of higher learning also examine high school transcripts to see if high schoolers have chosen more rigorous courses of study. In addition to checking for credit counts by subject, they also want to see that students have challenged themselves by selecting honors-level, or advanced placement courses when available. The Resource Guide can be helpful in this area. The directory offers the ability to search for curriculum by subject AND course level as well as many other filters.

High School Requirements for College

Jamie Gaddy

Jamie Gaddy, B.S., M.Ed., Ed.D. has been a college education professor for over 17 years. Education has been a part of her life in both the classroom and as a principal. Six children later found her dissatisfied with traditional school and homeschool became the better fit. She is also a pastor’s wife, editor, and entrepreneur who now homeschools four of her six children in Georgia. Jamie loves to share about her homeschool experience to help other homeschoolers find success. Connect with her at [email protected].