High School Requirements for Higher Education Goals and Infographic

High School Requirements

by Kerry Jones, Robin Richardson and Alicia Bodine

Homeschool High School Requirements for Higher Education Goals

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.

Requirements Ivy League Schools   Elite Engineering Schools  Elite Public Universities  Liberal Arts Schools  State Colleges
 English  4 credits with emphasis on writing  4 credits with emphasis on writing and literature  4 credits with emphasis on writing  4 credits  4 credits
 Mathematics  4 credits  4 credits  4 credits 3-4 credits  3-4 credits
 Science  2-4 credits including 2 lab sciences  4 credits including 2-3 lab sciences 3 credits including 2 lab sciences 2-3 credits including 2-3 lab sciences  3 credits including 2-3 lab sciences
 History/Social Studies  2-3 credits including American and European history  3 credits  3 credits  2-4 credits  3 credits
 Foreign Language  4 credits  2-3 credits  2 sequential credits  2-4 credits  2 credits
 SAT   Required, but  no required minimum score listed  Required, but  no required minimum score listed  Minimum of the following: Reading=460 Math=460 Writing=440  Required, but  no required minimum score listed  Recommended combined math and reading score of 970 or higher, but not required
 ACT  Required, but  no required minimum score listed  Required, but  no required minimum score listed Minimum of the following: Reading=19 Math=19 English/Writing=18  Required, but  no required minimum score listed  Recommended composite score of 21 or higher, but not required

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.

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.

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 LetsHomeschoolHighschool.com Curriculum Directory can be helpful in this area. The directory offers the ability to search for curriculum by subject AND course level.


Alicia Bodine

Alicia Bodine has been a professional writer for nine years. She has produced thousands of articles for online publications such as Education.com, Time4Learning, Demand Studios, Bright Hub, Yahoo! Voices and WiseGeek. Bodine is also the Healthy Foods editor for BellaOnline. When Bodine isn’t writing, she’s busy homeschooling her oldest and caring for her youngest, who suffers from a rare neuro-genetic disorder



Kerry Jones is a guest author at LetsHomeschoolHighschool.com and the admin of the web's largest community for secular homeschoolers, SecularHomeschool.com., She is a "homeschooling alumnus", having graduated both sons who were each homeschooled from kindergarten. You can follow Kerry on Google Plus by adding her to your circles.

August 12, 2013


  1. Jamie says:
    Posted December 27, 2016 12:03 pm

    We have a new article regarding Ivy League Colleges... we hope this helps.

  2. Kristien says:
    Posted December 13, 2016 3:39 pm

    Hi, I was wondering if you could give some specific extracurricular activities my student could go for, in order to get into an Ivy League College? Thank you

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