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College Counseling

students posing in their college shirts in the courtyard

At SEM, we empower girls to make informed decisions about their post-high school education.

Just as our academic program stresses critical thinking and personal growth, our college search process emphasizes individual exploration. 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. Our office is fully committed to providing college counseling services that affirm the dignity, worth, and value of all students. We believe in creating an atmosphere of openness, trust, respect and safety where diverse attitudes, beliefs, and values can be explored and applied to a comprehensive college search.


An Individualized Process

Preparation for college begins the moment a student walks through our doors for her freshman year when she is assigned a faculty advisor, a peer sponsor, and a class dean, all of whom guide and mentor her. By senior year, she will have met representatives from over 75 colleges who visit SEM, and will be meeting regularly with our college counselor to finalize a college applications list that represents a student's interests and a range of schools to which she has an opportunity to be admitted.

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.

The Right Fit

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 , the best 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.

Personal Attention

College Counselor, Ann Leslie works with each SEM student and her parents throughout the college search. Each girl is given the tools and direction to research the colleges and universities that best fulfill her individual aspirations. Parents are of course a part of the process, but the focus is on each girl discovering her own path.

In the end, it’s about enabling an adolescent to take a significant step toward adulthood. That step isn’t only getting to a specific college, but rather, taking ownership of the process of getting there.


Our daughter Alicia, enrolled as a computer science major at the University of Virginia, went from taking a required assessment to determine which freshman-level programming course was appropriate, to being directed to take a placement exam, which resulted in placing out of the first-year courses altogether.

 Alicia can now move forward in her studies and incorporate more advanced electives as a part of fulfilling the degree program requirements. We credit SEM with offering programming courses that not only sparked her interest in computer science but gave her the tools to get ahead.

Natalia Land P'19