College Admissions Prerequisites

The Commission on Higher Education has issued a guideline for College Admissions Prerequisites to 4-year colleges in South Carolina.  We’ve talked before about High School Record-Keeping--with the SC Diploma standards in mind.

But, it’s up to you to figure out the differences in the college admissions prerequisite requirements.  This is a general guideline of what college admissions actually require–compared to the current SC diploma standard. 

What high school credits do you need to get into a 4-year college? How does the College Admissions Prerequisites differ from the Diploma Standard?

Bear in mind that many colleges are looking for incoming students to meet an equivalent to diploma standard with these prerequisite requirements. So, it’s beneficial for homeschoolers to understand how our graduates will measure up and compete for college admissions. 

These recommendations help simplify your high school planning, especially if you don’t know where your student wants to go yet. Some colleges will vary from this list. Others will make exceptions. But, I think it’s important to be aware of these guidelines.

College Preparatory Course Prerequisites Required
For Entering College Freshmen Beginning in Academic Year 2019-20

Note: these High School Prerequiste Courses are just for College Prep (CP) weight value. If you wish to designate Honors value, there is a 40-page document about the Honors Framework Guidelines. This post will just be about the CP requirements (or recommendations).

  • If you’re just starting to map out the high school plan for an 8th or 9th graders, this is a useful guideline for you.
  • If your student doesn’t know where they’d like to go, this is a great guideline. Keeps the door of opportunity open for a 4-year college.
  • If you’re outsourcing classes at a local or online resource center, they may be promoting classes as “high school credit” values that are no longer desired for college admissions.
  • And if there’s any chance your student may re-enroll in the public high school, these requirements may also affect your student’s placement.

Be sure to check with the college admissions recruiter where your student wants to attend. College admission requirements may vary. Private colleges and 2-year Technical Colleges will vary. And be sure to check with your accountability association about their policies for transcript assistance and preparation, and course requirements.


All four units must have strong reading (including works of fiction and non-fiction), writing, communicating, and researching components. It is strongly recommended that students take two units that are literature based, including American, British, and World Literature.

Recommended Courses to meet the requirement: English 1, English 2, English 3, English 4, IB English Courses, AP English Courses

Current SC Diploma requirements: English Language Arts = 4 units; English 1, 2, 3, 4

These requirements are the same. You might also specify the literature component in the course name instead of “English”. For example: Modern Bestsellers, Horror or Shakespeare could also be acceptable.


These units must include Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry. A fourth higher-level mathematics unit should be taken before or during the senior year.

Recommended Courses to meet the requirement: Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II
Fourth higher-level mathematics unit selected among: Algebra III, Precalculus, Calculus, Probability and Statistics, Discrete Mathematics, Computer Science, IB Mathematics Courses, AP Mathematics Courses
AP Computer Science

*Foundations in Algebra and Intermediate Algebra may count together as a substitute for Algebra I if a
student successfully completes Algebra II.
*Computer Science should involve significant programming content, not simply be keyboarding or using

Current SC Diploma requirements: Mathematics = 4 units; Algebra 1, 2, Geometry,Pre-calculus, Calculus, Discrete Mathematics, Probability and Statistics

The difference here is in the 4th year of acceptable math credit can be a computer science programming course.

Overwhelmed? Help is here: The High School Solution


Two units must be taken in two different fields of the physical, earth, or life sciences and selected from among biology, chemistry, physics, or earth science. The third unit may be from the same field as one of the first two units (biology, chemistry, physics, or earth science) or from any laboratory science for which biology, chemistry, physics and/or earth science is a prerequisite. Courses in general or introductory science for which one of these four units is not a prerequisite will not meet this requirement. It’s strongly recommended that students desiring to pursue careers in science, mathematics, engineering or technology take one course in all four fields: biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science.

Recommended Courses to meet the requirement: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science, IB Science Courses, AP Science Courses

Current SC Diploma requirements: Science = 3 units, Physical Science, Earth Science, Biology 1, 2, Chemistry 1, 2, Physics

The big difference here is that Physical Science is not listed as a high school science credit. Many colleges do not consider Physical Science as a “Lab Science”, even if you do a lab with it. They have been accepting two of the lab sciences for admissions requirements, so a non-lab science like Physical Science was acceptable as a 3rd science.

Be aware of resource centers that are still promoting Physical Science as a high school credit for your 8th grader this year. It still doesn’t count as a “Lab Science.” Colleges will accept it as an elective course credit–as long as you have three other lab sciences.


Two units with a heavy emphasis on language acquisition.

Recommended Courses to meet the requirement:Spanish, French, German, American Sign Language (ASL), Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Classics (Latin, Greek, Hebrew)

Current SC Diploma requirements: Foreign Language or Career and Technology Education = 1 unit

The difference here is two years of a foreign language. I love it that ASL counts as a World Language too!
Courses should be sequential credits in the same language (not Spanish 1 and Latin 1). Some colleges prefer three or four years in the same language. If you don’t have access to the 3rd year requirement, the college can make exeptions. But, you’ll have to inquire with the college admissions to get an exception.


One unit of U.S. History, a half unit of Economics, and a half unit of Government are required. World History or Geography is strongly recommended.

Recommended Courses to meet the requirement:U.S. Government, Economics, U.S. History and Constitution, World Geography, Western Civilization, Psychology, Sociology, IB Social Science Courses, AP Social Science Courses

 Current SC Diploma requirements: U.S. History and Constitution= 1 unit, 
Economics = ½ unit, U.S. Government = ½ unit, Other Social Studies = 1 unit –World History or World Geography

The difference here is an expanded list for the 3rd credit of Social Studies. US History is one, Government is 1/2, Economics is 1/2. A variety of other Social Studies courses are accepted as the 3rd credit. Though World History or Geography are recommended.


One unit in appreciation of, history of, or performance in one of the fine arts. This unit should be selected from among media/digital arts, dance, music, theater, or visual and spatial arts.

Recommended Courses to meet the requirement: Art (Media, Visual, Digital), Chorus, Instrumental Music, Dance, Music, Theater, AP Fine Arts Courses, IB Fine Arts Courses, Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation

The difference here is college admissions are looking for a fine arts credit. Whereas the diploma standard considers all fine arts courses as optional in the electives, but not required. Seems like an easy requirement to meet though.


One unit of physical education to include one semester of personal fitness and another semester in lifetime fitness. Exemption applies to students enrolled in Junior ROTC and for students exempted because of physical disability or for religious reasons.

Recommended Courses to meet the requirement: Physical Education, Health Education, ROTC

  Current SC Diploma requirements: Physical Education or Junior ROTC = 1 unit

No change here. One credit of Physical Education or ROTC. Health also counts toward this prerequisite requirement.


Two units must be taken as electives. A college preparatory course in Computer Science (i.e., one involving significant programming content, not simply keyboarding or using applications) is strongly recommended for this elective. Other acceptable electives include college preparatory courses in English; fine arts; foreign languages; social science; humanities; mathematics; physical education; and laboratory science (courses for which biology, chemistry, physics, or earth science is a prerequisite).

Recommended Courses to meet the requirement: A college preparatory course in Computer Science is strongly recommended for this elective. Other acceptable electives include college preparatory courses in English; fine arts; foreign languages; social science; humanities; mathematics; physical education; and laboratory science (science courses for which biology, chemistry, physics, or earth science is a prerequisite).

 Current SC Diploma requirements:: Electives = 7 units 

The difference is that the required electives is less than the diploma standard. The overall total credits required is only 20. Whereas the diploma standard is the minimum of 24.

So, your student could meet admissions requirements with less than 24 credits. But, I’m not a fan of the minimum. We’re not homeschooling to just squeak by on minimums.

TOTAL: 20 

Total MINIMUM amount of credits required is 20. However, I believe it’s beneficial to demonstrate 6-8 credits per year (total of 24-32 credits). So your student’s transcript reflects an accurate picture of their abilities and accomplishments. You have room to highlight their interests and uniqueness…so they stand out against other applicants.

The point is to open the doors of opportunity. We’re not looking for a cookie-cutter version of this list. So, use this diploma standard as a guideline that speaks to an equivalent education. Then, show what’s made how your student’s homeschooling journey exceeds that!

Do you follow the SC diploma standard or College Admissions Prerequisites?
Let me know in the comments.

More about Homeschooling High School in South Carolina:
Homeschooling High School 101 in South Carolina


The High School Solution from The HomeScholar is for new homeschooling parents with kids nearing high school, parents of struggling learners trying to survive high school, or parents who doubt their ability to keep a gifted student challenged! Homeschooling high school can be a joy instead of a burden. Learn how!


About Kim Andrysczyk

Homeschool veteran, Association Director, coffee addict, sarcasm expert, and accidental blogger. I'm here to encourage you thru the tough times and inspire you toward excellence. If I can make it, so can you!


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