Cate School - Review #2

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

About the Author:

Years Attended Boarding School:
Sports and Activities:
Outside of academics, I did a sport every trimester throughout the school year. I did Ultimate Frisbee during the fall trimester for all four years and served as Co-captain for 3 out of the 4 seasons I played. During the winter trimester, I did JV Basketball my first year, JV soccer my second and third years, and ceramics for varsity art for my senior year. Lastly, I did Track and Field during the Spring trimester for all four years, and this was my favorite sport and time of the year. Besides sports, I also served as a tour guide during my junior and senior years where I got to share my experience at Cate with prospective students/families. This was a nice break from the academics and more of an opportunity to build connections with admission officers and future students. At Cate, we also have lab proctors where upperclassmen students serve as mentors to tutor students who are having trouble in a class. It was basically office hours that we had from 9-10pm where students could drop in and get help in their class. I applied and got the position of Japanese lab proctor where I helped students with their Japanese homework, studying for tests, and anything else related to Japanese. I was also a part of the Latin@ club we had called HLA where we met to celebrate Latinx culture with other students regardless of whether they identified as Latinx and/or Hispanic. Finally, the last position I wanted to highlight is Prefect. At Cate, there is an application process to be a prefect which are students who are chosen to live their senior years in freshmen dorms to help with any questions they might have but more importantly to help them transition to life at boarding school. One of the best experiences I've had where I got to help students feel at home at Cate and also just grew a lot from them.
College Enrolled:
Claremont McKenna College
Home Town, State:
Santa Ana, CA

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
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 that had both an urban and rural feeling to it. Cate is located high up on the mountains secluded from everything else which helps foster a tight-knit community where everyone knows each other. At the same time, Cate also provides shuttle busses that take students to Carpinteria, a small nearby city, where students go to relax with friends at the beach, go eat at restaurants, etc. It's such an amazing location to be at if you're not sure what kind of geographical location you want to be at. Another aspect that makes Cate unique is its teaching style. First, for the majority of classes such as Humanities, English, History, and Foreign Language classes, the class is set up in what Cate refers to as Harkness discussion. My freshmen year, Cate purchased several huge oval-shaped tables where every student can see their peers and teacher from across the table. This teaching style helps foster effective discussion by ensuring that students pay attention to one another and also encourages students who tend to be quieter to participate.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
I think that going to boarding school helped me grow in so many ways, whether that be academically, or socially with being open to getting to know people from all over the world, and also gaining confidence in where I come from. Going in to Cate, I was very shy talking to new people and at times didn't think that I belonged there. However, by forming connections with my peers, talking with teachers, and overall putting in an effort to be more out there, I was able to gain confidence in myself to do things I couldn't do before. By far, going to Cate was and is still the best decision of my life.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I think I would've made more of an effort to get to know people right from the start. It wasn't until the end of my second year that I made more of an effort to form connections with students and faculty, and my regret at graduation was not having started earlier. Even though we have four years at Cate, it went by faster than I thought and every day really does count. Another thing is just changing my mentality. Even though there were moments when I questioned whether I belonged there, there was a reason why I decided to go there, and that's because it was the hardest and best experience of my life. Be open to trying new things, meeting new people, making mistakes and learning from them, and most of all becoming the best version of yourself!
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Overall, I think the community is what makes Cate great. The people you meet there become some of the most important people in your life and also a great environment to figure out the things you want/don't want to pursue in college.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
If you have the chance, please meet Coach Soto! one of the nicest guys on campus, head football coach, and always makes your day better. Also, always check in the back of the kitchen for extra snacks, sometimes there are extra things like cookies or brownies. Finally, try to go out to the city, didn't go out much and really wished I had my senior year when I started too.


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I liked the fact that teachers at Cate really try to challenge students to take on a problem before getting the answer. I think that honing problem-solving skills is one of the most important things to get out of any school, and I feel Cate did this. Cate has very high expectations of its students, but it's understandable given the amazing faculty it has and also its goal to help us prepare for college. However, I think that it is very doable for any student who seeks help. Talking more specifically about each department, I think that Cate has a very solid math department with teachers who are fully equipped to share their knowledge with students. For math, it's not based on grade level in terms of placement, but more on the level of math that a student is in, which I loved because it helped me advance to the next level if I was ready for it. While Cate has a strong math department, I think there is still work to be done in the Science department. Most teachers are qualified to teach the material, however I think that a lot of them either go on tangents too often that are not related to the course or simply teach it in a way that feels too overwhelming. This is based on my experience and what I've heard from other people both in my graduating class and in other grades, but I think this is a common belief. The Foreign Language classes are also, I'd say, very strong. I took Japanese throughout my four years at Cate, and it was one of the best experiences I had there. Our teacher, who was the foreign language department head, is one of the best teachers I've had. Not only does he go out of his way to help students out in his Japanese class, but also gives his full effort into improving every language as well. Overall, what I liked most about the academics at Cate is the commitment from both teachers and students to get the most out of our time there


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I think the dedication to improvement throughout the season was the best part about it. I can't speak for all sports, but with Track and Field, for example, the goal was always getting stronger, faster, and smarter together through challenging workouts. Cate is also known for having really good athletes and therefore for the most part stays in competitive leagues. Throughout my 4 years, Cate switched leagues for Track and Field 2 or 3 times at that was because we were doing a lot better every year. Definitely has a very strong soccer and basketball program during the winter, a strong cross-country program in the fall, and also a very strong girls lacrosse program in the spring. Cate does have mandatory sport to a certain degree. Students must do something each trimester and freshman and sophomores have to do a team sport for at least 2 of the 3 trimesters. As you move up in grade, the guidelines are less strict so seniors can do something different, like working in the production of a play or varsity art.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
Cate has been slowly but surely expanding its Visual Arts, Music, and Theatre program. Every year, Cate has several events such as school plays, dance convocations, and artists they invite to play at our school. There has definitely been a huge increase in student interest to be a part of these programs, and the performances have been amazing. The school has two plays, one in the fall and one in the Spring, and students always give it their all to produce something great. People who participate in these events don't take classes usually, but instead meet either during sports time or right after dinner for rehearsals.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Over the years, I think that the extracurricular activities at Cate decreased. There weren't a lot of students run clubs meeting my last two years at Cate, but there were other opportunities to volunteer. One great opportunity to give back is called Public Service Night, and this is where faculty drive students to different house/communities and help out with a variety of things. You can either sign up to play Bingo with the elderly, serve food at a shelter, sing karaoke, and other things.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
I think dorm life for me was pretty good because I got to know the faculty dorm parents well and also my peers. My freshmen year, there were our dorm parents living in the dorms with us, 2 on either end of the two halls we had, and they always made sure we knew what to do or helped out with anything else. It was a very chill atmosphere with dorm parents getting us a lot of food on the weekends, such as MacDonalds or late night pizzas that always made students happy. Plenty of bathrooms to shower at your own time and with enough space. Day students were allowed to select a boarding student to share a room when they were on campus, and overall was a welcoming community. For food, there were times when I'd get hungry late at night so always a great idea to bring some snacks from Carpinteria when Cate's busses take you.


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
I think the food was solid most of the time. There was a couple time when there just wasn't anything I liked but this happening only once a week if that. There is something there for everyone and they make sure to include what's in each meal in case people have food restrictions. There is also a soft serve ice cream machine for people to get on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays during lunch. Cate also had a salad bar where you could make your own salad and also a cereal bar in the mornings. They just made a new dining hall so the food might be a little different, but I'm confident that this variety in options will remain.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Town life had a mix of urban and rural that I liked and also is one of the quietest areas I've been too. Always felt safe at school in the mountains and had a great time visiting Carpinteria to go to the beach or a restaurant.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Because the school is very small in terms of student size, everyone knew each other. I came from a school of 1500 students so it was a big transition for me going to a school with 350 students in all 4 grades, but I valued the close connections I was able to make with other students. I especially liked not only hanging out with my peers, but hanging out with my peers at a dorm parents' apartment when they had invited us to cook pizzas with them or something like that. The social life makes it possible for connections to be formed not only between students but also with faculty.

Daily Schedule:

8:00 AM
Japanese Class
8:45 AM
30min break to toast room
9:15 AM
English Class
10:15 AM
All School Assembly
10:30 AM
Math Class
11:15 AM
12:15 AM
Free Block(no classes)
1:30 PM
Science Class
3:15 PM
4:45 PM
Get ready for dinner
11:30 AM
Go to Brunch and have a delicious omelet
2:00 PM
Do some hw
3:00 PM
Go out to Carpinteria and get snacks
4:30 PM
Call home
5:30 PM
7:00 PM
dorm meeting
8:00 PM
study hours
10:00 PM
get ready for bed
10:30 PM
lights out(for freshmen)
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)

Recent Articles

10 Things You Must Not Forget When Applying
10 Things You Must Not Forget When Applying
There's a lot involved in selecting the right boarding school. Don't forget these ten important things when you apply.
5 More Founders and the Schools Their Gifts Established
5 More Founders and the Schools Their Gifts Established
Vision. Generosity. High-minded principles. These are the hallmarks of the benefactors of the five schools featured in this article.
5 More Schools and Their Founders
5 More Schools and Their Founders
A private school in its infancy is quite different from the mature community it becomes over time. I wonder what the founders of these five schools would think about them today. I bet they would be very proud of their creations.

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