Applying to college is a lengthy and stressful process involving recommendations, standardized test scores, essays and high school transcripts. Admissions teams analyze these materials to determine your candidacy for admission to their school. The consequences of missing a credential, like your transcripts, depend on the reason for its absence. Policies and requirements vary greatly by school, so always call the individual admissions office to determine the necessary requirements.
Educational Portfolio Request
Colleges understand that some home-schooled students simply do not have transcripts. Procedures vary by school, but the office of admissions will likely request an educational portfolio. The school may, or may not, have its own home-schooled applicant form for such instances. Call the admissions office and ask what information, specifically, they want regarding your high school education. The admissions office will substitute this portfolio for your high school transcripts and your application will proceed through the review process as any other application.
In absence of a high school or college transcripts, some schools will require proof of your high school graduation or its equivalent, such as a GED degree. The office of admissions will request these documents in written form or by email before reviewing your application. Certain schools will reject your application without proof of graduation, even if you've already completed college credits.
A college can request additional standardized testing in the absence of high school or college transcripts. The admissions staff wants evidence of your proficiency in traditional academic subjects and may require subject AP exam results or subject SAT II scores. Again, every institution differs, but some will accept these scores in lieu of transcripts. The admissions staff will review these scores and render a decision based, in part, on your test results.
Colleges and universities will request your transcripts, or some other evaluative equivalent, at least once during the application process via email or written letter. Failing to provide the requested materials or the equivalent by the application deadline will likely result in rejection. Colleges that accept students year round will generally be more flexible about the deadline, and sometimes the requirements, as well.