Cate School - Review #1

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

About the Author:

Years Attended Boarding School:
Sports and Activities:
Theatre, Jazz, Orchestra, Basketball
College Enrolled:
Occidental College
Home Town, State:
Bay Area, CA

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
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.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
Cate offers many opportunities that I wouldn't have had elsewhere. With untraditional schooling (compared to other boarding schools), I did ropes courses for my seminar classes to build trust with my classmates. Students spend a week backpacking in the wilderness at the beginning of each school year. I was able to attend college trips during my senior year with my classmates. There are many great things a student can experience at boarding school, depending on their interests. If Cate doesn't offer something for that student's interest, they have the freedom of creating a new club or initiating activities with faculty support for their activity.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
For students who feel out of place at a boarding school, don't lose your confidence or shine just because you feel alone. If anything, you stand out because you're unique and you're going to go really far, even if you can't see it. Be confident and approach your fears. This is easier said than done. Take on as many opportunities as you can. Explore the space and environment around you. This is your opportunity to try as many new things as you can. Meet as many people as you can and learn about them. Take a chance. This is the place to start learning who you are. Find the people who are there to support you. You will need it because, in such a small, community, it can feel isolating when you don't have anyone around you.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
I loved the weather and views at Cate. If you get the chance, get a room seaside CHE or Parsonage. You get breathtaking views of the mountains and the ocean. You wake up with the sun shining in your room or the sun setting through your room. I love that all of Cate's dorms have balconies. You can sit outside and do your work on your balcony and just watch the world around you move. I used to sit on my balcony while it was raining with a blanket wrapped over me.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Going to boarding school can be nerve-wrecking, especially at a school that's historically not made for you. Don't be afraid. You're not the only one that feels this way. Find the faculty and peers that will support you for who you are. You will not be accepted by everybody, and it can be really disheartening because Cate is a small community. One rejection can feel like a rejection from everybody. Cate is not entirely representative of the real world. If you can tackle your insecurities here, you can do it anywhere!


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Classes are intimate and emphasize discussions. These were usually student-run and supervised by teachers. However, sometimes discussions would get out of hand when privileged students spoke up against marginalized voices. Classes followed an alternative syllabus. Advanced courses were not built around AP classes. Rather, they were constructed around the teachings needed to truly comprehend the subject matter.


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The athletics program at Cate School is pretty strong. There is a range of sports to choose from. There are traditional sports such as football, soccer, and track, but there are also alternative sports such as outdoors, strength & conditioning, and taekwondo. Cate also has a lacrosse team.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
The visual arts, music, and theatre program makes an attempt to be diverse but unfortunately infringes on cultural appropriation at times. The teachers in this department work really hard and put in a lot of effort, but unfortunately, that isn't always enough.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
There is a large range of extracurricular activities offered at Cate, including weekend trips to the Camarillo outlets, camping trips, and more. Cate offers dances about once a month or so. There are also plenty of on-campus activities on the weekends. Students have the opportunity to go into town and Santa Barbara in the afternoons and weekends. My personal favorite was going to the beach every weekend and eating a burrito from Rudy's on the bluffs.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Dorms are separated into sex, not gender. Living situations may be difficult for queer or genderqueer students unless you're a day student. Each dorm has 2 dorm parents and other faculty members who have dorm duty. Seniors and prefects take turns helping faculty members with dorm duty during the weekday evenings. For the most part, each student is given their own room. There are a few dorms on campus that will place you with a roommate but you're more likely to have a single. The doors don't have locks but most people have the common decency to know. There are community bathrooms that students share on each floor. Students will also have daily room checks until their senior year, meaning their room has to be clean, trash is taken out, and the bed is made daily before 9 am class.


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
There is mandatory dinner check-in for all students. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are offered every day. In between meals, there are fruits and the toast room available to students for snacking. The food at Cate School is definitely better than most colleges offer. There is a range of meals offered to accommodate all students' dietary needs. Students will attend formal dinner around once a week. For formal dinner, all students attend convocation and then proceed to the dining hall to have a formal seated dinner with faculty members. Freshmen will have dining room duty, meaning they handle dishes. Students will also be randomly chosen to wait for formal dinners.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Carpinteria is a charming, small town. There aren't really any BIPOC in the surrounding areas of Santa Barbara, Ventura, or Montecito. However, the beaches are very nice, arguably, some of the nicest on the entire California coast. Siam Elephant is one of the best restaurants in town. Rudy's is also a great place many students stop by to eat. The town is probably a mile in width. A student can walk through the entirety of the town in a couple of hours.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Cate School works hard to be inclusive but still lives in a bubble. Naturally, cliques form of students. Some of them result from shared activities, classes, and sports. Others form by class and race. Social life might be more difficult for BIPOC students to adjust to simply because there are not many BIPOC students. They are split into international students and American BIPOC students.
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