Cate School - Review #13

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

About the Author:

Years Attended Boarding School:
Sports and Activities:
There is a mandatory period after classes each day where the student must participate in some sort of extracurricular activity. I was on the varsity basketball team for 4 years but obviously, basketball was only one season out of the year so I was forced (in the best way possible!) to branch out during the other seasons. I played volleyball during the spring trimester for 4 years and loved it and even stepped out of my comfort zone and participated in the tech crew side of the school play for one trimester.
College Enrolled:
Trinity University
Home Town, State:
Houston, TX

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
I have heard that the majority of schools on the west coast have a relaxed environment but Cate had that coupled with the incredible location on a hill overlooking Carpinteria and the Pacific Ocean. Our campus is still, to this day, the most beautiful place I have ever been.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
I came from a public school in Houston and really felt like socially I had not grown very much in that environment. When I went to Cate to visit, I remember my tour guide and the way he seemed very personable and I thought that was something I wanted to do. I felt like I was a very awkward person and wanted to break out of my shell so bad and this seemed like my chance. I became a tour guide my sophomore year and every year I did it I felt myself becoming more and more articulate and my ability to really get to know these prospective students left a great impression on me. Some of them, that were admitted after I toured them, would tell me about how they remembered their tours with me and that's exactly what I wanted to accomplish. My senior year I became 1 of 4 head tour guides for the program and although it was just a title that position, to me, became the fruit of my labor as I set out to become a more articulate, positive person and I did just that.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I think, to some extent, I fell into the "I'm too cool" to do certain things trap and I wish I hadn't. Almost all kids that age have this misconception that everything they do is being judged by their peers and, while sometimes the harsh reality is that's true, it shouldn't limit the activities you participate in or the things you're interested in. I wish I had done more and put myself out there more and been a little more social all the time. Now that I'm in college and have bills and a job and everything I really appreciate the simpler time I had at Cate. I was living in probably one of the most beautiful places in the world, getting an amazing education, surrounded by people equally as bright, and had nothing to worry about. There were several moments of consciousness I had during my time at Cate where I would sit alone and really try and grasp the beauty of that fleeting moment without worries and those moments are the ones I look back on now as I grow older and that time gets further away from me. My advice would be to really live in whatever moment you're in when you get there. Too often I spent waiting for college because the rules seemed overbearing or I had no time to go out and do things I wanted to do but in the end I regret looking forward all the time just because the present moment was there right in front of me.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
The environment really always brought my mind back to a state of ease when I was worried about anything. I can't even put into words the calmness of that place and how any amount of worry could be soothed by some quiet meditation outside. The entire 360-degree area was sheer beauty and you could sit anywhere and look any direction and it was a picture perfect setting. I try and go back to visit any chance I get because I yearn for those times when I would just sit on a bench and it was 70 degrees outside, sunny, and I could relax.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Sunset bench is by far the best place to sit and perform this "current moment meditation" I'm talking about. This place is always shown on tours because it's the best view on campus. Go there and just sit by yourself when things become overwhelming and I promise you will be able to relax. Also definitely live in Schoolhouse if you can it's the closest dorm to everything!


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The class sizes were very small as I suspect they are at the majority of boarding schools so there is a lot of intimate work environments. Teachers always know you by name and more often than not they are a part of your life in more than one place throughout the day whether they are on duty in your dorm, your coaches, etc. As a result, students develop a personal connection with faculty members and this allows for a much more open dialogue between the two groups. Faculty members had a personal interest in your success and on the flips side, this mutual relationship made the student feel comfortable in approaching faculty with questions and concerns.


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Since the school was so small, your teammates were often class members, however, sometimes there were students from other grades on your teams and that allowed for connections to be made in grades above and below your own. I know that my freshman year on the basketball team was intimidating but we grew very close as a group and as time went on we undoubtedly became friends outside of just basketball. My senior year I was looked at as the leader of the teams and it was really great knowing I was now the role model for the younger guys and that the torch was indirectly passed on to me.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I was a part of the tech crew for one of the plays and attended a few of the other ones and thought that they were excellently produced and brilliantly executed. The theater teacher at the time was a really wonderful woman and I always felt like I had known her for my entire life every time I spoke to her. She was very passionate about acting and singing and made sure to display this passion every fall and spring during the performances. The school's choir, as well as the orchestra, was always guaranteed to give a beautiful performance during commencement week.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
There were tons of clubs and volunteer opportunities to be a part of among other things at Cate. One of my regrets today is that I didn't take full advantage of the chances we were given there. I was a part of our multicultural association for two years and I know there were clubs for all types of other interests and if there wasn't a club already student could easily establish their own if there was enough interest.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
The dorms were always such a wonderful experience. Some of the rooms I lived in could certainly use a touch up or a full fledged modernization but for the most part it was very pleasant. Freshman year was the most crucial time to have a good dorm because I didn't know anybody and it was clear very early on that the format of the dorm was for the purpose of assimilating the new students with their classmates and it did just that. I met people all throughout the first weeks of school and these are the same people that I graduated with 4 years later. Throughout those four years, we all lived only a few doors away from each other and it made the experience that much better knowing these people were that close all the time. Most of the dorms have balconies and views from them and they all had several faculty on duty at all times so it was a beautifully quiet study environment at night.


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
It was always a buffet type meal 3 times a day and small snacks like toast and fruit were always available. The head chef was a very nice guy and was always looking to meet students and hear suggestions. Overall there were lots of options every night if the main course didn't seem that great. Cate got a soft-serve ice cream machine during my sophomore year and that became quite the hot item on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Carpinteria is an absolutely beautiful small town right on the coast of California. The city was very clean and rarely had crime or things like that. Santa Barbara was also only a 20-minute drive from our school and Los Angeles was an hour and a half. There were tons of good restaurants and shops on Carpinteria's main street and there was a shuttle bus that ran from Cate down to the city so students could grocery shop or grab a bite to eat.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
School dances were a very popular time to socialize and what not and there were quite a few of them throughout each year. In addition to that, there were activities every Saturday night that ranged from dinner and a movie to laser tag on campus. There was really always something going on and I think that constant occupation of time really keep students away from all the bad activities that plague students that age at public schools today.
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. . .
Show more reviews (16 reviews)

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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