Cate School - Review #17

Read more details about Cate School on their 2024 profile page.
Cate School

About the Author:

Years Attended Boarding School:
Sports and Activities:
Freshmen prefect, tour guide, El Batidor (school newspaper) co editor-in-chief, Cate Review (school literary magazine) co editor-in-chief, community service, book club, Cate School Historical Society, lacrosse, Outdoors Program
College Enrolled:
College of William and Mary
Home Town, State:
San Luis Obispo, CA

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
The word, I feel, that always describes Cate best is "community." I left my local public high school to attend Cate because I wanted to be in a residential high school community, and that's exactly what I got. The Cate community is close knit and deep. Not only did I have the opportunity to become incredibly close to my peers, but I was able to become close to my faculty as well. Some of my greatest Cate memories are simply baking cookies in a faculty apartment, backpacking with my classmates and faculty members on the Kern River trip, and so many other student and faculty experiences that brought us all closer together. Cate became my home away from home physically but also because it is where I developed my second family.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
I grew so much as a person at Cate and developed so many great memories that it is hard to pick just one thing! One aspect of my time at Cate that sticks out to me, however, is my math experience. I hated math until I came to Cate. I struggled with the subject in large part because I never had very good math teachers. While at Cate, however, I came to actually like math. I attribute this entirely to the quality of math teachers I had at Cate and their willingness to help bring me up to speed.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I've been asked this question countless time while giving tours of the school, but I honestly cannot think of anything I would have done differently. I came as a new sophomore halfway through my sophomore year, and although I wished I could have had four years at Cate instead of two and a half, I never felt that this later arrival negatively impacted me. I got involved right away, made friends quickly, and ended up loving my Cate experience regardless of how long it was!
4.) What did you like most about your school?
As I've mentioned before, my favorite part of Cate is its community. Cate's community defines it and encompasses every part of what I loved most about the school from its academics to its dorm life.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
I strongly encourage you to visit Cate School and experience it for yourself. While reading up on the school is important, experiencing the place firsthand is equally as important. When you see the students in the classroom, the dorms, the dining hall, or the sports fields and when you get the opportunity to talk to a student in person, it makes the effect of the words used to describe the school so much more real and powerful.


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Before Cate, I had gone to public school my entire life, and I was eager for the small class size that Cate offered. This was one of the greatest aspects of my classroom experience at Cate. The smaller class size allowed for excellent and open class discussions, which enabled me to learn from my peers as well as my teacher. It also allowed me to get the help I needed when I needed a little extra explaining both inside and outside of class.


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I had never played a sport until I came to Cate. By the time I was interested in playing a sport at home, I felt like it was too late to start. At Cate, however, I had the opportunity to play any sport I chose. Not only was I encouraged to play a sport, but I was surrounded by people who were in similar positions as me. Instead of having a painful and awkward time adjusting to the sports field, my coaches and classmates made the experience fun and enjoyable. By the time I finished Cate, I was playing on the varsity lacrosse team. Seeing me on the sports field is something my dad never thought he would see and something I never thought I'd miss!

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I've never been much of an artist, and although I played several instruments growing up, music was something I chose not to continue. After I took the required foundation arts class (which includes studio art, theater, and music), I chose to take ceramics. Since I am rather artistically challenged, it was a struggle for me at first. Not long into the class, however, my skills improved to the point that I actually enjoyed the class. Located in an old (but renovated) school barn, the ceramics studio is a well equipped and tranquil space. Doing ceramics became a sort of escape for me, which is not uncommon for Cate students, and I chose to go above and beyond the requirements of the class because I ended up liking it so much!

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Cate emphasizes the whole person; this emphasis allows for a certain level of balance in Cate life. At Cate, a person can be a student, athlete, and artist - and still have time to live. I was able to participate in many different aspects of Cate life, but one of the most memorable aspects was my participation in the outdoor program. My involvement in this program allowed me to experience so many different outdoor activities in the state I've spent most of life in but had never truly experienced. Thanks to this program, I've spent weekends backpacking or rock climbing or just splashing around the ocean. California is beautiful, and I loved experiencing it through Cate's outdoor program.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
An only child, I'd never shared so much as a room with anyone near my own age. Living in the dorms at Cate was an entirely new (and welcomed) experience for me - and I loved it. It was a good transition for me because the majority of Cate students have their own room. My best friend lived just a door or two down from, and although we had study hours and lights out, we could still run down the hall to each other whenever we needed. Cate has a strong sense of community, and this is magnified in the dorm. I loved always having someone to go to whether that was my best friend, my prefect, or a dorm parent.


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Although much could be said about the quality and selection of food at Cate, not to mention the friendly dining hall staff, one of the most memorable aspects of meals at Cate is the dining hall itself. Cate's dining hall has a view of the ocean. Whether it was breakfast, lunch, or dinner, eating with a view of the ocean is something I never got over enjoying.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Carpinteria is a fairly small California town. I felt comfortable going to high school in Carpinteria because it is a small enough town that it provided me with everything I needed. Moreover, it is not too isolated or too big of a city, which would make me feel uncomfortable. Santa Barbara is just about fifteen minutes down the road - close enough to provide me with a little more hustle, bustle, and variety if I wanted it.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
The sense of community was my favorite part about Cate while I was there, and it continues to be my favorite part. I was able to make close, lasting friends at Cate, and the community is so open and friendly that it is easy to talk to anyone whether they are a student or a faculty member.

Daily Schedule:

7:30 AM
8:00 AM
School day begins (about 5 classes per day)
2:45 PM
School day ends
3:00 PM
4:30 PM
Break before dinner
5:30 PM
6:30 PM
Book Club meeting
7:00 PM
hang out with friends before study hours
8:00 PM
Study hours
10:30 PM
Lights out
9:30 AM
Sleep in!
10:30 AM
Grab brunch with friends
11:45 AM
Take the bus into Carp for a trip to the beach
1:00 PM
Get a late lunch at Taco Grande
4:00 PM
Take the bus back up to Cate
5:30 PM
Get dinner with friends
6:00 PM
Start working on homework
8:00 PM
Study hours
10:30 PM
Lights out
Read more details about Cate School on their 2024 profile page.

Alumni Reviews Review School

Cate School Alumni #1
Class of 2016
5.00 2/23/2021
Occidental College
Cate is a smaller boarding school and has a very much community bubble. This is a west coast boarding school so people are more liberal and open to alternative teaching. They also emphasize outdoor learning. . .
Cate School Alumni #2
Class of 2018
5.00 8/28/2020
Claremont McKenna College
One aspect of Cate School that I think makes it unique is its campus. When I was doing my research for what kind of boarding school, I wanted to apply to, there were a few. . .
Cate School Alumni #3
Class of 2019
5.00 5/21/2020
Colgate University
Cate is one of the unique places you could ever imagine. High up on a mesa with an ocean view surrounded by hundreds of acres of avocado trees, a utopian little community exists and thrives. . .
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Quick Stats (2024)

  • Enrollment: 300 students
  • Yearly Tuition (Boarding Students): $74,975
  • Yearly Tuition (Day Students): $58,975
  • Acceptance rate: 17%
  • Average class size: 10 students
  • Application Deadline: Jan. 15
  • Source: Verified school update