Cate School - Review #3

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

About the Author:

Years Attended Boarding School:
Sports and Activities:
Round square, Lacrosse, Outdoors program, Water Polo, Stream Team, Women's Forum, Los Ninos, Public Service Night, Junior Statesmen of America.
College Enrolled:
Colgate University
Home Town, State:
Encinitas, CA

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
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. Having been to another boarding school for my freshman year before transferring to Cate, I have seen firsthand just how special this little school is. Everything about it. What I felt relatively lacking at my previous school was realized at this school. I never knew it was possible such a place existed. Whenever I have a visitor in California, I make taking them back up to campus a priority. The school is that important to me.On campus, we say "the spirit of this place", and that phrase has rung true even 6 years out past graduation. The spirit of this place is strong and united by the thousands of alumnus around the world. We all love Cate.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
For sure the people I've met. The Cate community remains my truest support system, and I admire and love every person I shared the mesa with. I've had the opportunity to see Cate people in Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Lithuania, Morocco, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Brunei, Cyprus, Costa Rica, and Thailand, among others. We are truly everywhere and it is entirely heartening. I would do anything for anyone who went to Cate, either alums or future students. We have one of the most loving, supportive communities I've ever seen. Last week, a recent alum lead a Zoom yoga class to raise money for the carp food bank and it was heartening to see how many people showed up. In a similar vein, last year was my 5 year reunion and people had planned their entire years around making this event. Everyone showed up with nothing but love for each other and happiness to be in that space. It was incredible. When my friends from college say they don't talk to anyone from high school, I can't even imagine what that must be like. I text my Cate friends every day.Even while you are there, you can see elements of this community building: Tuesday talks, the thanksgiving event in the chapel, the funny assembly announcements, the formal dinners. there is so much community bonding that happens each and every day.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I would have appreciated being there more. It's hard when you are an angst 15-year-old going through a lot, but in retrospective and with added life experience, Cate really is one of the most perfect places you can imagine. I wish I was less of a brat and realized how good I had it. I also wish I took advantage of more of the outdoor opportunities, specifically the paddle board sunrise excursions and the trips to Santa Cruz Island. I also wish I appreciated the Yosemite trip more (every year, the whole sophomore class gets to go on a weeklong bonding backpacking trip). I complained, and I wish I didn't. What an INCREDIBLE experience. I wish I could do that now!!
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Cate taught me to take advantage of opportunities and put myself out there to apply for everything. It set me up so well for a successful college career in so many ways. I did a month long service trip to Romania with Round square; I got to go to Mexico with Los Ninos. To this day, I have traveled to 83 countries because of the confidence and roots I grew at Cate. I became an outdoors person and learned all of these crazy sports. I developed a passion for helping people. I developed my career path thanks to the care of Cate teachers. I learned what I was capable of and fully went after it in college. Also, with all the trials and tribulations that come with being a teenager, I developed a strong sense of self and increased my confidence tremendously. Cate is such a special place and transferring to Cate from my last school was one of the best things I've ever done.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Go take a second to sit at sunset bench and clear your head. Imagine your hair smelling like saltwater surfing in the very ocean you are looking at two hours previously, your stomach filled with delicious avocado fish tacos, your brain brimming with the new ideas you learned in class today, surrounded by several people who know everything about you down to your greatest insecurities. Imagining the sun setting over Carpinteria and all the teachers and community members you know living right down there. Now imagine four years of this. You can't beat it.


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Academics are unparallel. I think I transformed my educational habits and abilities way more at Cate than I ever did at college. You learn how to be a good student here. You have to manage your time well amongst all of your other commitments, distractions, and temptations. I also was extremely inspired by my teachers in an incredible way. I still don't make any major life changes without consulting them first.


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
You can find your place in athletics at Cate depending on the type of person you are. If you are fiercely athletic and competitive, there are numerous paths for you to see that dream realized. We are excellent at men's soccer and women's lacrosse. However, if you are not so athletic or team sport motivated, like me, there are still avenues for you to find your potential and be active. One of the most rewarding Cate things I ever did was joining the outdoors program where each and every day for the 3 fall seasons I was a student at Cate, we did various outdoor activities: surfing, paddle boarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, etc. I learned to love the outdoors through Cate and gained so much confidence and belief in myself as I was responsible for ensuring safety at all times. Not to mention the world class teachers and coaches that helped us with this journey. They are so inspiring.I also loved being on the surf team, which is a crazy thing I say to anyone not from California. Being able to finish class every day and head down to the ocean to lose track of everything else but spending quality time with my friends and catching waves. It is an unparallel experience.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I would not consider myself an artistic person, but I am thankful for Cate for pushing me out of my comfort zone in these regards. every student is required to do a visual and a performing art and I took choir (chorale) and ceramics. I had the great experience of being able to perform in front of other people for the first time in my life and feel the energy that comes with that. If not for Cate, I NEVER would have done something similar. Additionally, I took ceramics and learned to love it... the long walk to the ceramics barns and the feeling of molding clay with my bare hands. I can't think of an experience I've had similarly where I was able to produce something in the same way with just my hands and creativity. It is an incredibly rewarding experience and the ceramics teacher at Cate is a true legend. However, if you are more artsy, there are plenty of ways to get involved. People loved the theater program at Cate.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
There are so many ways to get involved at Cate and it is really what you make of it. I have some friends who were hardly involved in everything, and there were others who were involved in everything. As a very involved person, I can say with certainty that these activities I was a part of helped pave the way for my future and helped me refine and focus my passions, especially in relation to public service. The public service program at Cate is very interesting as it's done all through local community partners. Cate has made a name for itself as a reputable partner and each week we were able to fulfill this mission of community engagement. Some of my finest memories involving playing bingo in Carp at a retirement home.I was also involved in stream team despite NOT being a science person at all. I loved the chance to use data and my time to monitor the watersheds in the area and send the data to the county to inform local policies. It made me feel like I was doing something good and concrete, and I treasure what I was able to learn about the local eco system through this involvement.I also had the opportunity to go to Mexico with the los ninos program in what was one of the most fun times of my life with fellow teachers and students.Additionally, I was involved with the first group of a women's forum on campus and I'm glad that tradition has continued on to this day.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
I was a semi boarder/ semi day student. It is complicated. I will say I got much more out of my experience being present at school. What a cool thing it is to be 14 and live with all of your best friends in the world. To sit on a balcony overlooking the ocean and listen to new music as the sun goes down. The dorm life is very strong and the teachers really contribute to that. When I was a student there, all the teachers were remarkably helpful and kind and we knew their dogs, kids, and family members. We would bake cookies in their apartments and watch movies. I'm even nostalgic for things like room check and study hall, which helped instill a sense of discipline in me. All the senior prefects who are chosen are amazing and add to the experience. There is always dorm pride and in assembly you can hear people yell out in favor of their dorm. It is a really special environment and Cate nails the boarding aspect.Though it's not all fun and games, each student is assigned a chore to make the school run. I generally had to spend like 30 minutes a week on mine.


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Having had lots of other dining hall experiences, I would say that Cate takes the class. Most of the fruits and veggies are locally grown and you can taste the freshness. There are innovative, creative recipes and I never felt bored with the menu. There are certain dining hall traditions like "B for D" or breakfast for dinner, where we would all rejoice eating tater tots for dinner. There is also fresh fruit in the dining hall for students during the school day, even special fruits (i ate my first guava here). My favorite part was the plethora of avocados (Cate sits on a couple hundred acres of avocado orchards). I also love the toast room that is always open during the academic day for a carbo load. Get in there and have a bite!

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Carpinteria is a dream to be located by. It is an idyllic Southern California town with eateries of every type, tall palm trees, and a beautiful golden beach nicknamed the “world’s safest” because of its calm waves. I will forever be nostalgic for lazy afternoon strolls down this adorable little town with my best friends. Get Thai take out and smoothie bowls and soak up the beautiful rays in this town. You can either walk like an hour, bike like 20 minutes, or take the school provided shuttle into town.On weekends, there is also a shuttle into bigger Santa Barbara if you wish to see a movie, do some shopping, or get out of the bubble.I promise there is no more ideal environment to grow up in than sunny sleepy Carpinteria. I never felt unsafe.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Cate provides interesting opportunities for both structured and unstructured social opportunities. So much of your day is set for you, classes, formal dinner, sports, advisories, convocation, etc but so much is also completely up to you which is very exciting. There is a very good balance of spending time with the friends that you have chosen freely but also through community members in which you share common interests with.I enjoyed formal dinners with 9 other people completely chosen at random where you have to talk about how your day is going and get to know new people, but I also loved laying on my friend's balconies talking about life and doing our homework. It is an incredibly unique mix that served me very well.
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