Admission Policy for Students with Non-traditional Records

Colorado College has always evaluated candidates for admission on an individual basis. In recent years we have been asked about our policies regarding home schooling, narrative transcripts, portfolio assessment, and other non-traditional approaches to a standard high school transcript. Students presenting non-traditional transcripts are still a very small percentage of our applicant pool, but they are not disadvantaged in the admission process. Since Colorado College does not require an official high school diploma or GED for admission consideration, we have had students apply after three years of high school and we have had students with some combination of high school record and other kinds of assessments. More recently, applicants have included home-schooled students and those enrolled in alternative school programs.

With our individual assessment of all students, we look at four things: academic information, application information, recommendations and tests scores.

Academic Information

In the absence of a traditional high school transcript, we are still interested in assessing a student’s academic capabilities. Reading lists, curricular information, teacher narratives about courses of study, and copies of papers or projects can be used in place of a traditional transcript. Colorado College does not have a distribution requirement of academic courses in high school. However, applicants without traditional transcripts must provide information about their program of study and how various competency levels were achieved. With non-traditional records, some kind of outside assessment is helpful. Many home school candidates, for example, have had an opportunity to take a course at a local community college during their high school years. That community college transcript can be an outside validation of particular levels of achievement. Some type of standard credential can help in the assessment of a student with no formal high school transcript.

Application Information

An important part of our evaluation of candidates has always been based on what the student chooses to say about themselves, and the student’s writing ability. We place a great deal of weight on how the student describes both intellectual and extracurricular achievement and involvement. How a student chooses to be involved in clubs and organizations or in the community and with family are important considerations. We look for evidence of commitment. The kinds of intellectual, creative, and athletic contributions that a student might make to the college community are important. We also assess a student’s writing ability. The application essays reflect how well prepared a student is for the rigors of college writing.

Recommendation Letters

Three recommendations are required. Two of these recommendations are to come from teachers and the third is from the high school guidance counselor. Obviously, in certain situations, such recommendations are not readily available. If that is the case, students should pick three individuals, outside of the family if possible and appropriate, that have some knowledge of their academic capabilities and interests. These letters should describe the recommender’s knowledge of the individual candidate. Letters of recommendation can come from community liaison people, employers, activity directors, clergy, and others.

Standardized Testing

We accept, but do not require either an SAT or an ACT score from students attending secondary schools offering written evaluations without accompanying grades. These test scores provide some general, national comparisons. You can read more about our test optional policy below.

Again, the evaluation of candidates for admission has always been done at Colorado College on an individual basis. The proliferation in recent years of candidates with credentials that differ from the norm has not really been a problem for our process. We look closely at all information provided and then make our selective admission decisions.


Report an issue - Last updated: 10/06/2021