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Buffalo Seminary

205 Bidwell Parkway, Buffalo, New York, 14222, United States
101 Lincoln Parkway, Buffalo, New York, 14222
Liberal Arts
Grades (Gender):
Gr. 9 to Gr. 12 (Girls)
US $19,840 to 46,715/year
Main Language:
Avg. Class Size:
9 to 1
Day: Varies (Gr. 9 - 12), Boarding: Varies (Gr. 9 - 12)

School Address
205 Bidwell Parkway, Buffalo, New York, 14222 , United States

About this school:


An independent day and boarding school for college-bound girls. One of the oldest girls' schools in the U.S., we have created a culture of achievement, scholarship, and leadership for girls since 1851. Living and learning on a cozy campus in an historic neighborhood, girls are prepared for college and adulthood. Parks, architecture, galleries, shops, and cafes are steps away. 5-day boarding offers girls total access to clubs, sports, community service, and supervised study, with family time on the weekend. — Visit school website



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Our Take: Buffalo Seminary

our takeSEM was founded in 1851 as The Buffalo Female Academy, and it’s had an impressive history ever since. Times have changed of course, and so has the school, yet the initial intent for the school remains pretty much what it was at the beginning: to provide an exceptional education for young women, preparing them for productive roles in academics, society, and life. The name “seminary” can be misleading, in that the school doesn’t actually prepare students for ordination. Some of the traditions of the school reflect those of the Christian church—the school gathers each day in chapel, where they sing “Jerusalem,” the school’s anthem—though the daily life of the school is secular, reflective and supportive of the diversity within the student body. The location and the buildings of the campus are a strength, and the programming of the school rightly capitalizes on it. The long-held traditions of the school provide a unique and very welcome sense of place, as does the dedication to creative engagement between students, both in and out of the classroom. The ideal student is one preparing for post-secondary education, and who will thrive in a very active academic environment. 

Principal's Message


Helen Ladds Marlette, Head of School

How lucky I feel to be taking the helm at SEM at this point in the history of the school. I know my good fortune is the direct result of the hard work of all of those who have preceded me - work that was fueled by a love of SEM and girl focused education. It is my charge and my duty to carry their passion and work forward to ensure that each girl today receives the same exceptional educational opportunities as those who have preceded her, to ensure this school is worthy of each girl’s promise.

What does a SEM education look and feel like in 2017? Our look has changed dramatically. The exterior of
205 Bidwell is being restored to preserve its glory. The Chapel has been refurbished to highlight its beauty and improve the functionality of the space. The Magavern- Sutton Courtyard, connecting our five student and faculty residential houses, is absolutely stunning. The buildings and spaces at SEM matter; they are the framework for the unique community that is SEM.

As is tradition, we will begin each day in the Chapel because it is the Chapel which gives us a sense of place and meaning. It is the very center of our school. It builds our confidence, brings us joy and celebrates our individuality while strengthening our community. The courtyard connecting the buildings of our campus will allow for individual reflection, small group gatherings and a large green lawn for recreation and socializing - bringing us together in ways we have yet to imagine. These beautiful places and spaces ground the people at SEM, but it is the people at SEM who give the spaces and places life. The spirit of individual teachers who are passionate about their academic field, devoted to their students and each other, and who work together creatively combined with the energy of students who are kind, curious, engaged, and supportive of one another is unbeatable.

Although the faces change and our campus has grown, the essence of SEM has remained the same. When you walk in our hallways and walkways you will see students and faculty engaged with each other, hear laughter and feel the sense of belonging that is SEM: a school guided by our tradition, living in the present and cherishing our time together, all the while pushing the boundaries to prepare us for an exciting future. The result? SEM is a nationally recognized all-girl school whose graduates are capable problem solvers, knowledgeable, resilient, kind, involved citizens who possess outstanding character. It is a privilege to be charged with leading this incomperable school where the tradition is forward thinking, into the future. 


Curriculum Liberal Arts

Primary Curriculum: Liberal Arts

What SEM says: AP, honors, online, and independent study classes tailor each student's academic path. Small classes, integrated technology, 4-year STEAM & fine arts curriculum, and Harkness tables for seminar-style learning, and committment to community service prepare girls for leadership and success at college and in careers.

  • Approach:

  • Pedagogies and subject courses:

  • Mathematics Traditional Math

      Traditional Math typically teaches a method or algorithm FIRST, and THEN teaches the applications for the method. Traditional algorithms are emphasized and practiced regularly: repetition and drills are frequently used to ensure foundational mastery in the underlying mathematical procedures. The traditional approach to math views math education as akin to building a logical edifice: each brick depends on the support of the previously laid ones, which represent mastery over a particular procedure or method. Traditional Math begins by giving students a tool, and then challenges students to practice using that tool an applied way, with progressively challenging problems. In this sense Traditional Math aims to establish procedural understanding before conceptual and applied understanding.
      Learn about the different mathematics approaches  

    • What SEM says: Logical reasoning, problem solving, and the ability to organize information enhance each girl’s ability to think critically become tools for lifelong success. Reasoning, problem-solving skills, and the ability to communicate mathematical ideas verbally and in writing are the foundation of our approach.We coordinate with the science teachers to teach math skills required in physics and chemistry.

    • Textbooks and supplementary materials: Math XL, supplemented by white boards and laptops and software.

    • Calculator policy: All students use graphing calculators.

    Science Equal Balance

      Science programs that balance expository and inquiry learning equally will likely have an equal blend of tests and experiments; direct, textbook-based instruction and student-centred projects.
      Learn about the different science approaches  

    • Teaching approach: From the Freshman STEAM curriculum with its engineering, coding and Maker Movement class to the honors and AP level classes in biology, chemistry and physics, to the senior electives like Scientist for Life which encourages young women to pursue science in college, career, and for recreation, to classes in astronomy and oceanography, science is taught in an equal balance of expository and inquiry based methods.

    • Topics covered in curriculum:

      Subject = offered
    • Treatment of evolution:

      Evolution as consensus theory
      Evolution as one of many equally viable theories
      Evolution is not taught

    Literature Equal Balance

      These literature programs draw in equal measure from “Traditional” and “Social Justice” programs.
      Learn about the different literature approaches  

    • What SEM says: The English program is about learning to love to read and write. It is also about mastering the poetics of media and culture. We seek to produce introspective and informed young women who can express their views effectively. While establishing a firm foundation of reading and writing skills, our courses expose students to a broad range of works in traditional print literature. Students are also trained in critical analysis from the perspective of psychology, philosophy, history – any discipline that uses interpretive texts.

    Humanities and Social Sciences Equal Balance

      These programs represent an equal balance between the perennialist and pragmatic approach to teaching the humanities and social sciences.
      Learn about the different humanities and social sciences approaches  

    • What SEM says: We emphasize academic skills essential for college-bound students, such as reading both primary and secondary sources; separating fact from opinion; effective note-taking; writing for history-related topics reflecting both meaningful use of fact and critical thinking; and informal and formal oral presentation. Students learn research techniques and do research-related writing. Global and American geography and map study are also integral to a program designed to promote a passion for the past and a broader love of learning.

    Foreign Languages Equal Balance

      These programs feature an equal blend of the audio-lingual and communicative styles of language instruction.
      Learn about the different foreign languages approaches  

    • What SEM says: A student learning a language at SEM will be proficient in interpretive communication (reading and listening); interpersonal communication (writing and speaking); and presentational communication (writing and speaking). We expose students to their target language at all times through an immersion approach. Students learn in an environment that emphasizes participation, creativity, and a tolerance for diversity.

    • Studying a foreign language is required until:   11
    • Languages Offered: • Chinese-Mandarin • French • Spanish

    Fine Arts Equal Balance

      These programs have an equal emphasis on receptive and creative learning.
      Learn about the different fine arts approaches  

    • Program offers:

      Subject = offered
      Graphic Design
      Visual Arts
    • Visual studio philosophy:

    • What SEM says: SEM presents a comprehensive survey of the arts, designed to promote each student’s personal growth through artistic expression. Guided by the fine arts faculty, students examine the history and philosophy of artistic expression, and actively participate in art, music, theatre, and dance. Each girl is challenged to test her own limits, and to discover and explore her unique potential.

    Computers and Technology Heavy integration

      A major effort is made to integrate the development of digital literacy throughout the curriculum and in everything students do. Digital literacy is understood to be a fundamental skill in the 21st century: it therefore follows, the idea goes, that teachers should find ways to connect every lesson back to technology. Effort is made to ensure the use of technology is meaningful and advances students’ skills beyond what they would otherwise be from using computers outside the classroom.
      Learn about the different computers and technology approaches  

    • What SEM says: Women are perpetually under represented in the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art & design, mathematics) fields, and as an all-girls school SEM is particularly well-suited to address the deficit. Research shows that girls' school graduates are six times more likely to consider majoring in math, science, and technology and three times more likely to consider engineering careers compared to girls who attend coed schools. SEM's unique freshman STEAM curriculum features trimesters in engineering, coding and the Maker Movement and sophomores take a research and information literacy class. We have a digital printer, NAO robot and MAC lab available for students to learn and create with.

    • Program covers:

      Subject = offered
      Computer science
      Web design

    Physical Education
    • What SEM says: The athletics program emphasizes excellence, commitment, participation, and the cultivation of the whole person. A student athlete will grow as an individual while learning the values of teamwork, sportsmanship, responsibility, and dedication. SEM's Health/Leadership four-year program aims to cultivate and develop knowledge, skills, and empower conviction.

    Advanced Placement Courses
    • AP Physics C: Mechanics
    • AP Statistics
    • AP Spanish Language
    • AP Spanish Literature
    • AP United States History
    • AP World History
    • AP Biology
    • AP Calculus AB
    • AP Calculus BC
    • AP Chemistry
    • AP English Language and Composition
    • AP English Literature and Composition
    • AP French Language
    • AP Government and Politics: Comparative
    • AP Government and Politics: United States

    Sex and Health Education
    Topics covered in sex and health education: This information is not currently available.

    What SEM says: We offer Health/Leadership for 4 years. Sex education is one component of it; also included is public speaking, digital literacy, time and stress management, nutrition, car care, CPR, banking, team-building, friendship skills.

    Mostly value-neutral

    By and large, we teach sex education free of any particular moral or ethical standpoint. We try not to impose any particular values or value systems (such as social, political, or ideological values) on our students when teaching sex and related issues.

    Fairly value-based

    Sex education is sometimes taught from a particular moral or ethical standpoint. Sometimes particular values or value systems (such as social, political, or ideological values) are invoked when teaching sex and related issues.


    This includes a range of positions. A traditional approach might, for example, go as far as emphasizing the nuclear family and complete abstinence from sex before marriage. Alternatively, this approach might simply involve placing less emphasis on sex outside of the context of marriage and more emphasis on abstinence. Or finally, it might just involve focusing less on sex outside of the context of marriage.


    This might mean more emphasis is placed on the importance of such things as social equality, diversity, and choice in sex education.

    What SEM says: SEM\\\'s Health/Leadership Program is a four-year curriculum whose mission is to \"grow gutsy girls.\" Our goal is to cultivate and develop knowledge, skills, and convictions that will empower each student “to take her place in the ever-evolving global community and to stand alone, if necessary, for what she believes is right” (Student Handbook). SEM graduates young women who can take care of themselves, have a spirit of service, and are leaders. What sets SEM’s program apart from other traditional health classes is our integrated leadership component and our non-traditional approach -- discussion-centered with hands-on activities and exercises.

    Curriculum Pace Accelerated

    • Standard-enriched
    • Accelerated
    • Student-paced

    The main curriculum accelerates beyond the pace of the provincial one; ALL students do the work of OLDER public-school peers in tangible and measurable ways. This accelerated pace is maintained by the teachers and school, (through textbook selection, topic selection, grading, assignment standards and expectations, etc).

    Flexible pacing:

    Flexible pacing style = offered
    Subject-streaming (tracking)
    Multi-age classrooms as standard
    Ability-grouping (in-class) as common
    Frequent use of cyber-learning (at-their-own-pace)
    Regular guided independent study opportunities
    Differentiated assessment

    What SEM says about flexible pacing: SEM accomodates and aids athletes and dancers who have training schedules. Seniors currently complete a month-long senior internship and presentation. With the Class of 2018, a year long capstone project and thesis will be inaugurated.

    Academic Culture Rigorous

    • Rigorous
    • Supportive

    A school with a “rigorous” academic culture places a high value on academic performance, and expects their students to do the same. This does not mean the school is uncaring, unsupportive, or non-responsive -- far from it. A school can have a rigorous academic culture and still provide excellent individual support. It does mean, however, the school places a particular emphasis on performance -- seeking the best students and challenging them to the fullest extent -- relative to a normal baseline. High expectations and standards – and a challenging yet rewarding curriculum – are the common themes here. Keep in mind this classification is more relevant for the older grades: few Kindergarten classrooms, for example, would be called “rigorous”.

    What SEM says: As an independent school, SEM provides a comprehensive curriculum that emphasizes the humanities, arts, digital and technological literacy, and opportunities for personal growth, community service and leadership with a focus on college preparation.

    Developmental Priorities Intellectual, Balanced

    Primary Developmental Priority: Intellectual
    Academically strong, creative, and critical thinkers, capable of exercising rationality, apprehending truth, and making aesthetic distinctions.

    Secondary Developmental Priority: Balanced
    Equal attention is paid to a balance of priorities: intellectual, emotional, social, and physical.

    What SEM says: SEM believes that school is not only a formal education, it is also where character is built. Here, academics are rigorous and creativity and debate are encouraged. School is where students learn what is expected of them as adults. We provide opportunities to learn by giving back to school and the larger community through extracurricular activities such as clubs, organized sports, and required community service.

    Special Needs Support No support

    No support

    SEM offers no/limited support for students with learning difficulties or special needs.

    • Academic Support:
      Support Type = offered
      Learning strategy and study counselling; habit formation
      Extra support and minor accommodations for children experiencing subclinical difficulties
    • Mild but clinically diagnosed ADHD
      Support Type = offered
      Extra support
    • Support for moderate-to-severe special needs:
      Special needs
      ADHD (moderate to severe)
      Learning disabilities
      Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability)
      Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
      Language Processing Disorder
      Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD)
      Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
      Asperger's Syndrome
      Down syndrome
      Intellectual disability
      Williams syndrome
      Behavioral and Emotional
      Troubled behaviour / troubled teens
      Clinical Depression
      Clinical anxiety
      Suicidal thoughts
      Drug and alcohol abuse
      Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
      Multiple sclerosis
      Cerebral palsy
      Muscular dystrophy
      Spina Bifida
      Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)
      Cystic Fibrosis
      Multiple physical
    • Forms of support delivery:
      Support Type = offered
      A regular class with indirect support
      A regular class with resource assistance
      A regular class with withdrawal assistance
      A special education class with partial integration
      A full-time special education class
    • Additional Support:
      Support Type = offered
      Social skills programs
      Occupational therapy
      Speech-language therapy

    Gifted Learner Support Accelerated curriculum

    Dedicated gifted programs:

    Program = offered
    Full-time gifted program (parallel to rest of school)
    Part-time gifted program (pull-out; parallel to rest of class)

    Curriculum delivery: This information is not currently available.

    In-class adaptations:
    Practice = offered
    Custom subject enrichment (special arrangement)
    Custom curriculum compacting (special arrangement)
    Guided independent study (custom gifted arrangement)
    Cyber-learning opportunities (custom gifted arrangement)
    Formalized peer coaching opportunities (specifically for gifted learners to coach others)
    Custom subject acceleration (special arrangement)
    Career exploration (custom gifted arrangement)
    Project-based learning (custom gifted arrangement)
    Mentorships (custom gifted arrangement)

    What SEM says: This information is not currently available.

    Gifted education: If you want to learn more about gifted education, check out our comprehensive guide. It’s the first of its kind: it covers different kinds of gifted schools and programs, and a whole host of issues parents face in finding the right option for their gifted child.

    Homework Policy

    In grade 12, Buffalo Seminary students perform an average of 1.5 hours of homework per night.

    Nightly Homework
    SEM 90 mins90 mins120 mins90 mins
    Site Average69 mins80 mins95 mins108 mins

    Report Card Policy

    How assessments are delivered across the grades:

    Lettered or numbered grades9 to 12
    Prose (narrative)-based feedback9 to 12
    Parent-teacher meetings9 to 12

    Class Sizes Not available

    This information is not currently available.


    What SEM says:
    • 2015 & 2016: US Squash Division V Champions.
    • 2015: SEM enters oldest Model UN competition in the US for the first time and places 2d overall.
    • 2015 & 2016: Tennis Doubles Champions Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Assoc.
    • 2015: Bowling Champions Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association.
    • 2014: SEM Field Hockey team goes to NYSAIS playoffs for 1st time.
    • 2013: SEM forms a sailing team.
    • 2014: SEM forms its first chess team.
    • 2016: SEM student wins the Western New York State regional competition of the English Speaking Union's National Shakespeare Competition. It's the fifth consecutive year a SEM student has won. The winner competes nationally in NYC at Lincoln Center.
    • 2014-15: SEM girls volunteered 8,407.5 hours.

    • Sports OfferedCompetitiveRecreational
      Field Hockey
      Ice Hockey
      Track & Field
      Downhill skiing
    • Clubs Offered
      Art Club
      Chess Club
      Community Service
      Computer Club
      Dance Club
      Drama Club
      Environmental Club
      Foreign Language Club
      Math Club
      Online Magazine
      Outdoor Club
      Outdoor Education
      Poetry/Literature club
      Robotics club
      School newspaper
      Science Club
      Student Council

    Tuition & Financial Aid


    DayUS $19,840
    Boarding US $46,715
    What SEM says: Includes all meals. No additional international fees. We also offer 5-day boarding for $42,715 - students get the best of SEM during the week, and families get the best of their daughter on the weekends.

    Need-based financial aid

    Grade range that need-based aid is offered: 9 to 12
    Percentage of grade-eligible students receiving financial aid0%
    Average aid package size$0
    Percentage of total enrollment on financial aid0%
    Total aid available$0

    Application Deadline:
    Rolling deadline

    More information:

    Application Details:

    This school works with other. for processing financial applications
    Interview (via Skype if necessary) Personal essay Entrance exam Transcipts English, and math or science teacher recommendations

    Merit based Scholarships

    Buffalo Seminary Merit Scholarships
    Amount: $0
    Deadline: Rolling
    Eligibility Details: Students grade 9 to 12—

    A student can apply for any or all of these scholarships. Amount varies per student. Decisions are based on completed application, transcripts, and recommendations. Please note that the Deborah Dann Reed Arts Scholarship also requires the submission of a portfolio.

    The L. Gertrude Angell Leadership Scholarship
    Established in 1961 as willed to Buffalo Seminary by L. Gertrude Angell, this fund provides a four-year scholarship to honor a strong student who has demonstrated spirit, leadership, and citizenship in her school and community activities.

    The Deborah Dann Reed Arts Scholarship
    Established in 1973 by the family and friends of Deborah Dann Reed ’72, this award provides a four-year scholarship to a student possessing potential for creative and imaginative work in the field of visual art. Students should also submit an art portfolio.

    The Buffalo Seminary Math/Science Scholarship
    The Buffalo Seminary Math/Science Scholarship is a four-year award given to a student who has demonstrated an aptitude and a passion for the study of math or science.

    The Niswander Family Outstanding Scholar Award
    The Niswander Family Outstanding Scholar Award is a four-year scholarship given to a student who has demonstrated high academic achievement and a passion for learning throughout her middle school years.

    The Buffalo Seminary Summer at SEM Scholarship
    The Buffalo Seminary Summer at SEM (SAS) Scholarship is awarded to a student who has actively and enthusiastically participated in SAS for at least one summer and would be an asset to her class and the SEM community.  

    Oishei High School Scholarship
    Buffalo Seminary is proud to participate in the Oishei High School Scholarship program. Each year the John R. Oishei Foundation awards a full four-year scholarship to one incoming freshman student of color at a participating Education Collaborative of WNY school. Scholarships are awarded based on consideration of need, merit, and potential for academic success.


    Application Details:

    We require an application, personal interview, personal essay, school transcripts, three teacher recommendations and the SEM entrance exam. We strongly encourage students to visit for a shadow day. 

    We also accept the SSAT as an entrance exam.


    For more details, visit: www.buffaloseminary.org/admission


    Total enrollment Varies
    Average enrollment per gradeVaries
    Average class size9 to 1
    Gender (grades)Gr. 9 to Gr. 12 (Girls)
    Boarding offered Gr. 9 - 12
    % in boarding (total enrollment)N/A
    % in boarding (grade-eligible)19%

    If you want to learn more about boarding schools, check out our comprehensive guide.

    Student distribution:

    Day Enrollment41483355
    Boarding Enrollment7131011



    Admissions Assessments:

    Assessment = requiredGrades
    Interview9 - 12
    SSAT9 - 12
    SSAT (out of province)
    Entrance Exam(s)9 - 12
    Entrance Essay9 - 12
    Application Fee

    Application Deadlines:

    Day students:

    Boarding students:

    What SEM says:

    Application and fee, personal interview and/or visit, teacher recommendations, transcripts for previous three years, personal essay, and entrance exam (either SEM's or SSAT accepted) or English Language proficiency test (boarding only).


    Acceptance Rate:


    Type of student Buffalo Seminary is looking for: Strong work ethic, intellectual curiousity and desire to engage in the school and community at large.

    Day Boarding

    Student Entry Points

    Student Type9101112
    Day Acceptance
    (Acceptance rate)
    38 - 45 (60%)2 - 5 (60%)2 - 5 (60%)0
    Boarding Acceptance
    (Acceptance rate)
    5 - 7 (60%)5 - 7 (60%)5 - 7 (60%)0

    University Placement

    Services = offered
    Career planning
    Mentorship Program
    University counseling
    Key Numbers
    Average graduating class size50
    *Canadian "Big 6" placements3
    **Ivy+ placements25

    *Number of students in 2015 who attended one of McGill, U of T, UBC, Queen's University, University of Alberta, or Dalhousie University.

    **Number of students since 2005 that attended one of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Stanford, University of Chicago, Oxford or Cambridge (UK)

    Schools our students are admitted to (last 4 years): Harvard, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia (Barnard), Cornell, Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Duke, Colgate, Hamilton, Georgetown, Boston College, UCLA, Notre Dame, Case Western Reserve, Carnegie-Mellon, New York University, Boston University, Loyola Chicago, Loyola Maryland, Northeastern, George Washington, American, University of Toronto, UBC, Queens, St. Andrews
    Schools our students attend (last 4 years): University of Alabama Long Island University Alfred University Loyola University Chicago Allegheny College Loyola University Maryland American University Marist College Amherst College Massachusetts Institute of Technology Babson College McNally Smith College of Music Baldwin Wallace College Mercyhurst University Barnard College University of Miami Belmont University Michigan State University Binghamton University (SUNY) Middlebury College Boston College Muhlenberg College Boston University Nazareth College University of British Columbia (Canada) New York University Brock University Niagara University Brown University Northeastern University University at Buffalo (SUNY) University of Notre Dame University of California, Davis Ohio State University University of California, Los Angeles Ohio University University of California, San Diego Ohio Wesleyan University Canisius College University of Oregon Case Western Reserve University Pace University Colgate University University of Pennsylvania College of Charleston Pennsylvania State University Columbia College (IL) University of Pittsburgh Connecticut College Pratt Institute University of Connecticut Queens University (Canada) Cornell University Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Daemen College Roberts Wesleyan College University of Dayton Rochester Institute of Technology DePaul University Roger Williams University Duke University Rutgers University Duquesne University University of San Francisco Edinboro University Simmons College Elon University Skidmore College Emerson College University of South Carolina Fairfield University St. Bonaventure University Fashion Institute of Technology St. Edward’s University Florida Gulf Coast University St. John’s University Florida International University St. John Fisher College Fordham University St. Lawrence University Franklin & Marshall College Suffolk University The George Washington University SUNY Fredonia Georgetown University SUNY Geneseo Gettysburg College SUNY Potsdam Hampton University Syracuse University Hawaii Pacific University United States Military Academy High Point University University of Tampa Hobart and William Smith Colleges Trinity College University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign University of Toronto (Canada) Indiana University, Bloomington Tufts University Ithaca College University of Vermont Jacksonville University Washington College John Carroll University University of Washington Johns Hopkins University University of Wisconsin, Madison Kenyon College Xavier University (OH) Keuka College Yale University Lafayette College

    What Buffalo Seminary says:

  • There are many perfect colleges. How can that be? Because perfect is personal. At SEM we help our girls discover which college will be the right fit - perfect for her. A girl’s happiness and success often have more to do with her character than with the college itself. Our goal is to help each student find a suitable college match so she can further the academic development, student leadership and community spirit she cultivated at SEM.
  • While we are an American school and only have an average of 50 girls per class, we have placed at least one graduate at a top tier Canadian university in the last 3 years. 2013 - 1 student at UBC. 2014 - 1 student at Queen's. 2015 - 3 students at University of Toronto. 2016 - 1 student at University of Toronto.
  • In the last 3 years, SEM students have been accepted at Dalhousie, Queens, UofT and UBC.
  • Since 2013 our graduates have attended schools defined by "Barron's Guide to Colleges" as "most" or "highly" selective such as Amherst, Bates, Brown, Colgate, Cornell, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Middlebury, Duke, University of Washington, New York University, Boston University, Tufts, UCLA, Yale.
  • SEM’s college counseling program is an individualized process. Supported by the College Counseling Office, faculty, and her family, each girl is encouraged to explore her preferences, interests, strengths and personal goals as she navigates the path of college admissions and acceptances. By owning the process, she widens her view of all the options that may be available to her – based on her academic record and intellectual interests, her unique talents and her potential career goals.
  • At SEM, we name the process college counseling, as opposed to placement, because our approach empowers girls to make informed decisions about their post-high school education. Just as our academic program stresses critical thinking and healthy risk-taking for the sake of personal growth, our college search process emphasizes individual exploration. Through education and open communication, our goal is to demystify the daunting college process for both students and their families – and to provide a supportive foundation for a successful, positive experience and outcome.
  • The Class of 2015, comprising 66 seniors, completed 508 applications to 182 colleges in 33 states, DC, and Canada.
  • From 2009-2013 SEM graduates attended schools including American University, Barnard College, Bates, Boston College, Carnegie Mellon, Case Western Reserve, Colgate, College of Charleston, Denison, Edinboro (UK), Elon, Emerson, Fashion Institute of NY, Fordham U,, George Mason, George Washington U., Hobart and William Smith, Howard, Indiana, John Carroll, Johns Hopkins, Loyola (MD), Loyola (IL), Mount Holyoke, NYU, Northeastern, Ohio State, Ontario Art and Design, RI School of Design, St. Lawrence, Skidmore, Syracuce, Trinity (CT), UBC, UC Davis, UC San Diego, U of Connecticut, U of Illinois, U New Hampshire, U. Penn, U. Pittsburgh, U. Rochester, U. San Diego, U. Vermont, U. Virginia, U. Washington, U. Wisconsin, U. of York (UK), Washington U., Yale.

  • Notable Alumni

    Alumnus Graduation Year Accomplishment
    Tara VanDerveer 1971 Stanford University Head Women's basketball coach, recipient of the "Legends of Coaching" award and coached the US women to a gold medal in 1996 Olympics.
    Mara Hoffman 1995 Renowned fashion designer based in New York City.
    Nicole  Lee 1994 Human rights lawyer. First female president of TransAfrica. Liason to Nelson Mandela's family.
    Lauren Belfer 1971 Author of NYT bestseller "City of Light," fiction based in Buffalo Seminary's history.
    Isabella Bannerman 1978 Award winning, syndicated cartoonist.
    Elizabeth Swados 1968 Writer, composer, musician, theater director.
    Tara Ellis 1988 President and CEO of Meals of Wheels for Western NY.
    Grace  Munschauer 1974 President of Deronde Door & Frame, Business First "WNY Woman of Achievement."
    Gwen Yates Whittle 1979 Two-time Academy Award nominated sound editor.
    Sally Spitzmiller Vincent 1964 Executive Director of the Ronald MacDonald House Charities of WNY, Buffalo, NY
    Roberta Rich 1963 Author of The Midwife of Venice (2011, Anchor Books) and The Harem Midwife (2013, Doubleday)
    Maddie Larkin Gacioch 2013 Country music singer/songwriter signed to SONY/ATV Music Publishing
    Virginia  Horvath 1975 Virginia Horvath, president, State University of New York at Fredonia – Appointed president of Fredonia in 2012.
    Amy Holden Jones 1972 Screenwriter, director

    Alumni Highlights

    • August, 2015: Buffalo Seminary trustee alumnae Cheryl Klass, president, Buffalo General Medical Center and vice president, Kaleida Health; Virginia Schaefer Horvath, president, State University of New York at Fredonia; Shelley Cole Drake, president, M&T Charitable Foundation and senior vice president, M&T Bank; and Catherine Schweitzer, executive director, The Baird Foundation, were all named in the annual "Power 100 Women" by "Buffalo Business First" newspaper.

    Stories & Testimonials


    Truly Helped Shape Who I Am

    SEM pushed me through what was comfortable to resee the world, to question, and then to stand-up for my beliefs with confidence. SEM truly helped shape who I am with its caring faculty and unique curriculum. It's a profound place. I'm proud to be a graduate.

    Arianna was a member of the Cum Laude Society and a crew coxswain. She is Georgetown University, Class of 2017.


    At University, She's the Girl Who Speaks in Class

    SEM is where I learned to speak and share in class. The Harkness tables in the humanities classrooms made learning intimate and yet challenging. Discussion based teaching meant everyone was expected to contribute, in fact, to take turns leading the discussions, and everyone was heard. 

    In one of my college classes this year, a small seminar, another girl and I were the only girls who raised our hands in class. After speaking with her, I learned that she also came from an Independent all girls school! I am truly thankful for what all girls education can do for girls around the world.

    Grace was a member of the National Honor Society, Mock Trial and Model UN teams, and crew. She is University of British Columbia, Class of 2017.



    Honest and Honourable Values

    SEM provided the learning environment which was perfect for me. Having such small classes helped develop positive relationships with teachers and provided the opportunity for extra help when necessary. The school’s culture is based on honest and honourable values. These values are rare in today’s society. But the more young women who learn the value of such integrity will bring it further into their communities. In time honesty and honour will not be so rare."

    Amy Andres ’05, Mooloolaba, Australia


    School Government Association President 2013-14

    SEM does not aim to simply churn out graduates, rather, each student who leaves SEM is a dreamer, a leader and a good citizen. A SEM girl can choose to pursue whichever path she desires and does not feel pigeonholed; here she is able to thrive in her own right.

    It is important to keep in mind what it means to be a SEM girl. We strive for academic excellence. We serve others in need. We have a strong obligation to our community. We appreciate the rich history and traditions of our school.

    Molly was School Government Association president and a member of the National Honor Society, Mock Trial and Model UN teams. She is Queen's University, Class of 2018.



    A Very Special Place

    Buffalo Seminary is a very special place, inclusive and full of opportunity. I was active on science and math academic teams and participated in the athletic program. I showcased my passion for music in a variety of ways at SEM. I performed a senior music recital. I also wrote arrangements for, and, on occasion, conducted the Ensemble. Whatever I needed, SEM was always there to help make it happen.

    The value of SEM's preparation became apparent soon after I arrived at Yale. SEM gave me a quiet confidence, a belief that there were no limits to what I could accomplish and the knowledge that good leaders lead by example. That confidence allowed me to play in and manage a student orchestra, run the school's largest community service project, and pursue a science degree in a field that is not generally receptive to women. The decision to major in science has led me to be a contributing author on a research paper to be published in a national science journal, and ultimately allowed me to obtain a research position at MIT's world renowned Whitehead Institute under the direction of Susan Lindquist, a nationally known and award-winning scientist. T

    he most important lesson SEM imparts to its students is the determination and belief that women really can do anything. Graduates of the class of '04 are proof of the school's influence. Two are enrolled in medical school, one is completing a biostatistics master's program, and two others are applying to Ph.D. programs. If that is not proof that SEM girls believe that they can do whatever they desire, I'm not sure what is!

    All of my life I have had the privilege of affiliating myself with fantastic educational institutions - Buffalo Seminary, Yale, MIT - but I will always consider myself to be, first and foremost, a SEM girl.


    In the News


    September 1, 2017 - Annual Freshman Picnic Welcomes the Class of 2021

    The Class of 2021 and their parents were welcomed at SEM for a BBQ and to meet the team coaches. ...

    August 30, 2016 - New Roles Created - 2 New Assistant Heads of School

    Helen L. Marlette, new head of school, will have two new assistant heads of school to support her - Natalie Stothart and Sophie Michaud. ...

    June 30, 2016 - Internships Prepare SEM Seniors for What Comes Next

    Interning is a ritual and a requirement at SEM - the final step the school takes in preparing students for life after high school. ...


    • The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Associations
    • The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) Associations
    • Advanced Placement Canada (AP) Associations

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