Frequently Asked Questions - HEAR

Page updated February 2, 2006

Why were the Higher Education Admission Requirements adopted?

Numerous studies have shown that students completing a rigorous set of high school courses are better prepared to undertake college-level classes and subsequently are more successful academically. Research comparing students who complete challenging coursework with those who do not has found that students who complete Higher Education Admission Requirements:

  • Achieve higher average scores on the ACT Assessment.
  • Have a lower likelihood of needing remediation in college.
  • Are retained and persist to degree completion at higher rates.

Additionally, college students who complete Higher Education Admission Requirement coursework are more likely to earn a higher grade point average and complete a baccalaureate degree in a shorter period of time.

When do the Higher Education Admission Requirements go into effect?

Phase I begins with students graduating in spring 2008. Phase II applies to graduates in spring 2010 and later.

What public institutions in Colorado will expect me to complete the Higher Education Admission Requirement's courses in order to qualify for admission?

  • Adams State University
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • Colorado State University
  • Colorado State University—Pueblo
  • Fort Lewis College
  • Colorado Mesa University
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver (if applicant is under 20 years of age)
  • University of Colorado—Boulder
  • University of Colorado—Colorado Springs
  • University of Colorado—Denver
  • University of Northern Colorado

Students who apply to one of Colorado’s 15 community colleges do not have to meet admissions standards associated with the four-year colleges/universities.

Will completion of the Higher Education Admission Requirements guarantee my admission to a four-year college or university in Colorado?

No. The course requirement is an addition to the CCHE Admissions Standards Policy for public higher education institutions. All four-year public institutions in Colorado have selective admission requirements articulated in the Admissions Standards Policy.

Further, colleges and universities may have institutional admissions requirements that go beyond the pre-collegiate courses and the selective admissions standards established for each institution. Students are advised to work closely with the admissions staff at the college/university of choice for complete information about admission requirements.

Keep in mind that all two-year colleges in Colorado have open admissions policies. The Higher Education Admissions Requirements do not apply to students entering a community college or to students entering Metropolitan State University of Denver if they are 20 years old or older.

I have a disability. Will I have to complete the Higher Education Admission Requirements?

Yes. The course requirements and the selective admissions standards will be factors in the admission decision for all students, even if an identified disability has resulted in a modified high school curriculum.

In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II), Colorado’s collegiate institutions do not discriminate on the basis of the presence of a disability. However, to qualify for academic accommodations at a postsecondary institution, students with disabilities must first meet the institution’s “essential admissions requirements.” The pre-collegiate curriculum constitutes an essential admission requirement. For more information about the federal guidelines regarding students with disabilities in the college/university setting, go to

What options do I have if I haven’t completed the Higher Education Admission Requirements and I graduate in spring 2008 or later?

You have at least three. You may qualify for admission to a Colorado public four-year institution even if you haven’t completed the prescribed courses. Institutions may make an exception and admit a specific percentage of students based on criteria other than the Higher Education Admissions Requirements and the CCHE freshmen index.

A second option is to enroll in a community college, all of which have open admissions, and, after successfully completing a college-level course in each of the four academic areas (i.e., English, mathematics, natural science, and social science), apply for admission to a four-year public institution as a transfer student.

Finally, CCHE will identify assessment options, which you may substitute for specific courses of the Higher Education Admissions Requirements once they are adopted by the Commission.

Who do I contact if I’m unsure if a course will fulfill a requirement?

Contact the counseling office at your school for specific course advice.

What are some other things I should do while I’m in high school to prepare me for college?

  1. Do your best in your classes. Keep in mind that most colleges give preference to students who challenge themselves throughout high school over those who take easier classes and get a higher grade point average. Explore whether you want to take Advanced Placement courses or pursue an International Baccalaureate diploma program. You also may want to enroll for dual credit classes that allow you to earn college credit while in high school through the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program. Your school counselor can provide you with details on each of these opportunities.
  2. Plan ahead. Create a student account on the website. You can access information about Colorado’s public colleges and universities at this site. As you begin to think about what kind of college you would like to attend, use the Matching Assistant to compare schools according to many characteristics, such as location, size, tuition, etc. Think about which characteristics are most important to you. From, you also can link to specific institutions’ websites. Most websites offer a “virtual tour” of the campus that give you a preview of campus life. Admissions offices have materials specifically designed for prospective students and their families and have staff who are available to answer your questions.
  3. Get involved in activities such as clubs, music, sports, and/or volunteer work. When you have an opportunity, try some leadership roles in these activities.
  4. Keep organized. One option for recording information is your student account on the website. Another option is to set up a folder to record and/or store important information about your activities and accomplishments as they occur. Adding to the folder as you go will make it much easier when the time comes for filling out applications. Your school counselor can assist you with this.
  5. Talk with your family about options for paying for college. The financial aid calculator on the site will help estimate costs. If you will be applying for financial aid, you should plan to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  6. Attend college nights, workshops, and information sessions to learn all that you can about college opportunities and financial aid availability. Watch deadlines to make sure you submit your application on time.
  7. Take your first ACT Assessment no later than your junior year. The cost of taking the exam on the statewide test date is paid for by the State of Colorado [NOTE: The cost of repeating the ACT or taking it on other dates must be borne by the student.] Depending on where you want to attend college, you may want to consider taking the SAT.
  8. Identify which colleges most closely meet the qualities that are important to you as you progress through high school. Create a list with three groups of schools: those that are a reach for you, those for which you have a reasonable chance of being accepted, and those for which you have a high likelihood of acceptance. Review and revise your lists periodically as you continue exploring which
    colleges or universities are the best fit for you. Plan to visit those schools in which you have the greatest interest prior to submitting your application.