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Cate School

School rating 4 / 5 by

1960 Cate Mesa Road Carpinteria CA 93013 United States
9th to 12th
9th to 12th


Cate School review by .

The academics at Cate are quite rigorous from the get-go. There isn't much room for students to select their own classes in a typical freshman schedule, but the structure often helps freshman become familiar with a breadth of disciplines before they reach the upper levels of study. It's normal for students to struggle with the transition from middle school level academics to high school academics; however, Cate offers loads of resources and will take an active role in each student's academic career. This is not to say all Cate students thrive, as there are definitely those who continue to struggle or do not care enough to meet their teacher's demanding expectations. For the most part, though, Cate students care about not only doing the work, but doing the work well and often beyond their teacher's expectations. As far as the academic environment at Cate, there is definitely a high level of achievement and accomplishment that leads to stress and anxiety in the student body. By the time junior year rolls around, many students are taking as many as five advanced courses, on top of SAT prep classes, everyday after-school sports, a host of extracurriculars, and God forbid a social life at that point. Some students say it's the teacher's unreasonable expectations or demands that lead to such overextension of the students' capabilities, but it seemed to me this type of pressure comes more from the students' desire to outperform the rest of their peers. The culmination of this stress is manifested in the college process, when Ivy Leagues are a first choice of almost a third, if not more, of the student body. Nonetheless, collaboration is very common at Cate--you'll be hard pressed not to find students each night in empty classrooms writing equations on boards and furiously marking up first drafts. Most students just want their friends to succeed. Cate's strengths academically are not limited to one area of study. There is a definite emphasis on the ability to write persuasively and effectively, which has been integral to my current success in college academics. Most Cate students will have found at least one topic they enjoy by the end of their time, whether it be history, writing, Spanish Literature, computer science, or whatever else their callings are. I was able to undertake a directed study my senior year at Cate with my favorite teacher, allowing me to dive further into my favorite area of study--creative writing. It was an absolutely rewarding experience and has helped me immensely in college. For the motivated and applied student, Cate's academic opportunities are some of the best for high school students in the country.

College Counseling

If you look at where Cate students are matriculating to College in the past few....

Sample insights on college counseling

  • They have contacts at most of the major universities and feel perfectly comfortable picking up the phone and advocating for a student to get accepted somewhere they feel is a good fit for that student. However, these counselors are certainly not magic bullets. They cannot guarantee that a student will get into an Ivy League university...
  • For those wishing to move on to Oxford or Cambridge, the provision is second-to-none. In the months running up to application and interview, every subject faculty offers classes (often run by former Oxbridge tutors) exploring further areas of their subject as well as offering advice on personal statements, interview technique and more...

Admissions - Getting Accepted

Gaining admission to Cate has become wildly competitive in the last years, and it's clear....

Sample insights on admissions

  • For the interview, dress conservatively. Try to be very clean and put together. Also, I was a tour guide for two years and at the end of every tour, we were asked to evaluate the candidate so if you think the tour is not apart of the process, you are very wrong. Ask questions and be interested. Also, tip for the parents: the kids speak on the tour. Do not ask their questions for them...
  • Most younger siblings have an easy time in the admissions process. I can only think of one case of a younger sibling not being admitted. About half of the students who entered with me had come from public schools. The remainder came from private K-6 schools, or had transferred from other New York private schools The Elizabeth Morrow School and St. Bernard were two of the larger feeder schools...

School Life

Many students at Cate have a love-hate relationship with the school, but appreciate even the more negative aspects of Cate that make it unique. This comes down for the most part to the intense academics which force students often to choose between social lives and school work. But it also extends to the disciplinary action taken by the school in response to violations of the student handbook like drinking, drugs use, inter-gender dorm room violation, etc. My Cate experience was defined by the academics, a result of my decisions. Though I definitely didn't have the socially fulfilling experience some of....

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