Cate School - Review #4

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

About the Author:

Years Attended Boarding School:
Sports and Activities:
Much of what I did at Cate was around the public service program from tutoring kids through the learning center program to participating in trips to Mexicali for learning and immersion. While not the most musically talented person, I had the chance to start learning guitar and play some percussion instruments. I spent a lot of time working on art projects, as I developed an interest in sculpture. For a time I wrote some articles for the student newspaper and assisted as a tour guide and student librarian. I also played tennis and softball.
College Enrolled:
Georgetown University
Home Town, State:
Santa Ana, CA

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
The focus on public service makes Cate stand out. Having participated in many of the public service program offerings, I can say that the culture of service toward others was genuine and deeply rooted in the philosophy of Cate. A second unique aspect that really defined the experience of boarding school for me was the originality in academia. While this is more true of some departments than others, in general I felt like the academics at Cate were constantly evolving to better allow students to learn and explore topics across disciplines.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
I grew more in my four years at Cate than I have ever grown to this date. I started to become more confident in my abilities and passionate in the things that I had an interest in. For example, I started learning Japanese while at Cate, and it sparked an interest that has shaped my course of study in university and my career choices. I learned about how to develop with relationships with people different from myself. It was my first exposure to life outside of what I had experienced in Orange County. Even now, I feel that the values of Cate continue to guide and shape my decisions.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
There is a lot that I would have done differently. I wish I had approached the experience from a more rational perspective. From the beginning, I felt that I would not have much in common with my classmates, which only made me feel more distanced from those around me. I think part of this just has to do with my teenage mentality at the time, and I am glad that I can look back on things with a more mature perspective now. I would advise kids to embrace the freedom of this time in your life and to dive into thing's head first. I would have shared more of myself and believed more in my capabilities if I could go back, and I think that would have made all the difference in terms of helping me build more lasting relationships.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Overall, I most liked the laid back atmosphere, the beautiful environment, and the brilliant and caring individuals who I met through Cate. Even though there is a lot I wish I could change about how I approached things, I can still reminisce on that time and appreciate all the unique experiences I had. The sense of community remains even after leaving Cate, and I think it is a testament to the strength of the Cate experience that so many alumni feel connected to the school and invested in its success even years after leaving.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
The art loft is a beautiful place to be, especially on days with a great sunset! I spent a lot of time here and found it relaxing to work on art projects while looking up to the trees. Also, the area behind '25 House with the trees and cliff overlooking the valleys.


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I most enjoyed the small class sizes at Cate and the intelligent debates we had in classes. My favorite classes were in the humanities, and I can still remember the feeling of engagement and interest on the part of students while in class. I think teachers do a great job of guiding students without dominating the content of discussions. These were instrumental in helping me to develop critical thinking skills. I also enjoyed the fact that I was taking classes at Cate that I could not take anywhere else. The unique history electives were some of my favorite classes I have taken, including the myriad of classes I went on to take in college. In general, I would describe the class environment at Cate as dynamic, supportive, and comprehensive in how it engages students.


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I have never been an athletic person, so it was challenging to find my place at Cate in this regard due to the mandatory participation policy. Still, I came to enjoy my days playing tennis and softball. I treated sports more as an opportunity to grow in community with my teammates and enjoyed this social aspect. There are all sorts of options for students to pursue the athletic opportunities that they want to do. Cate is unique in its offering of outdoor sports from mountain biking to rock climbing, so the breadth is great for the more athletically inclined. The facilities are top-notch and are frequently being upgraded and redesigned to best serve students.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I most appreciated the independence I had to pursue my own interests in art through independent study options. I was able to shape my own experience and design projects to do with the resources of the school at my disposal. I wish that there had been more classes available, particularly outside of the standard studio arts/ceramics department. While the faculty for those classes were great, I had an interest in sculpture which I could not nurture much, as by my senior year this department had essentially disappeared. I cannot speak as much to the music and theater programs, as I did not participate as much in those, but I did have the chance to take music classes and those were always great fun.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
There are many opportunities to participate in all sorts of clubs, from cultural associations to the student newspaper, yearbook, etc. There is something for everyone, and if a club does not exist, students have the freedom to start something new. Once the school year gets underway, I did notice a trend of it becoming more difficult for students to keep clubs running and have regular meetings due to the workload and pressure of maintaining high grades, but of course the level of activity varied from club to club. This also may have changed since I graduated. On the whole, I liked that clubs were welcoming and inviting of new members. I would definitely recommend exploring all the options available and taking the lead to create something new if it does not already exist.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Dorm life is a huge part of the social fabric of the school. So many of my memories revolve around late nights staying up and watching movies and eating pizza with friends. Before any social events, there was always a lot of fun to be had in everyone getting ready together and having fun. I had a roommate my first two years and thought it was a nice setup in getting accustomed to an entirely new place. One of my favorite aspects of dorm life was having dorm parents—faculty members living in the dorms who were always there for students with snacks, advice, and someone to just talk to. It was here where I built some of the strongest relationships with faculty and students alike. In terms of the rooms themselves, I found them to be amply sized. It was amazing to have my own room junior and senior years, as I had not previously had a room to myself before.


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
When I first arrived at Cate, the food was good but not great. Of course, it is hard to complain too much because there is such a variety in terms of the offerings, and students have access to food throughout most of the day. Some highlights include the soft serve machine, salad bar, panini maker, and toast room. It progressively got better over the course of my time there. There has been a greater shift toward having fresher, higher quality fruits and vegetables. Some meals that I looked forward to most were those on formal dinner days. There were some great meals served those days, from chicken with onion strips to the famous chocolate muffet tuffet desserts.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Carpinteria is a great place to be. It is simply gorgeous, and the weather is near perfect year round. I most enjoyed the walkability of the town and surrounding area and the hidden gems that there are for you to discover. Some of my most frequented locations included the frozen yogurt place near the main town plaza and the used bookstore on the way to the beach. For the times when it feels like Carpinteria gets too small, Santa Barbara is only a bus ride away and has more offerings in terms of shopping and dining. I wish I had gone out into Santa Barbara more frequently, but I was perfectly happy just exploring in Carpinteria and have fond memories of meals with friends at the local eateries.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
The transition to Cate was difficult for me, coming from a low-income background and having only gone to schools with hundreds of students. Cate was so much more than anything I could have prepared myself for at the time. Social life was probably one of the most difficult aspects for me and looking back I wish I had put more of myself into what I did and done more to build closer relationships. At times though I did feel that cliques developed quickly, and it was difficult for me to connect to my peers. Still, I found my group of friends and felt that they genuinely cared for me. The environment was conducive to the development of close relationships since you do so much together with your peers from eating meals every day to playing on the same sports teams.
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