Below are answers to frequently asked questions about Catlin Gabel and our admission process. Please visit our Academics & More page for information on curriculum, faculty, and extracurricular activities. Of course the admission team is always available to answer questions at admission@catlin.edu or 503-297-1894.

What are Catlin Gabel's strategic initiatives?

We invite you to visit our Strategic Planning webpages for more information on our strategic initiatives.

What does Experiential Learning mean at Catlin Gabel?

Experiential Learning is a process by which educators engage students through a cycle of direct experience, reflection, analysis and experimentation. It encourages deep learning, inspires personal growth and promotes active citizenship.

Learn more

What is an independent school?

Independent schools are private, pre-collegiate learning institutions, each with a unique mission. They are nonprofit institutions governed by independent boards of trustees and funded through tuition, charitable contributions, and endowment income. Independent schools uphold high standards of educational quality and are publicly accountable to parents, communities, and the agencies that accredit them. Catlin Gabel is accredited by the Northwest Association of Independent Schools, www.nwais.org.

Why do families send their children to independent schools?

The quality of the educational experience is one of the leading reasons families select independent schools. As described by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the U.S. Department of Education in its National Educational Longitudinal Study confirmed that larger percentages of students in independent schools are enrolled in advanced courses than in public, parochial, and other private schools. NAIS students: do twice as much homework as their counterparts; watch only two-thirds as much television; are significantly more likely to participate in varsity or intramural sports; are more likely to agree that students and teachers get along well.

How diverse is Catlin Gabel?

The diversity of our community enriches the educational experience for all and allows us to help prepare our students to be culturally competent world citizens. We value racial, religious, national, ethnic, socio-economic, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, family mosaic, and other diversity of our students, faculty, and staff. Students of color make up 42% of the student body. We seek and support socio-economic diversity with a robust financial assistance program that provides need-based financial assistance to more than 28% of the students. Learn more about Catlin Gabel values of diversity and inclusivity here.

How many students attend Catlin Gabel?

Approximately 760 students attend the school: 58 students in the Beginning School, 205 in the Lower School, 188 in the Middle School, and 309 in the Upper School.

What types of students are you looking for?

We are very proud that our student body is compromised of a variety of personality types and learning styles. We aim to group together students who are representative of the world around them: a mix of athletes and artists and writers and scientists from a spectrum of socio-economic, religious, racial, ethnic, and educational backgrounds. In our Middle and Upper Schools, we look for leadership potential and academic preparation in an effort to admit students who will take the fullest advantage of our curricular and co-curricular offerings. Most of all, we seek students who love learning, are naturally curious, and show an affinity for being a member of a tight-knit community of learners.

How are admission decisions made?

Information on each applicant is collected from the application materials that vary by grade, but may include the application form, responses to the questions for parents and questions for students, SSAT testing, confidential teacher evaluations, and records from previous schools, as well as notes from the student visit. Members of the admission committees individually review the applicant files and then meet as a group to discuss and make recommendations to the admission office. We take a holistic look at each applicant file, with every component of the application playing a vital part of the admission decision. There isn't a single piece that determines whether or not a student is offered admission.

Do applicants affiliated with the school get priority in the admission process?

All students admitted to Catlin Gabel are required to meet the standards for admission. The special relationship that children and grandchildren of alumni, children of faculty and staff, and siblings of current Catlin Gabel students have is noted during the admission process. However, legacy status does not guarantee admission for any student and does not carry more weight in the admissions decision than such factors as academic preparation and leadership potential.

How many students are admitted each year?

Our largest entry points are preschool with 22 open spaces, kindergarten with an average of 14 spaces, grade 6 with an average of 17 spaces, grade 7 with an average of 10 spaces, and grade 9 with an average of 23 spaces. Each year we typically have a few spaces available for new students in grades 1–5, 7, 8, 10 and 11. Admission to grade 12 is rare.

How can I prepare my child for their Beginning or Lower School student visit?

The best way to prepare your child is to try and relax! Your child will most likely pick up on how you're feeling and respond accordingly. We want children to be at their best during their student visit day and will make every effort to provide an environment that will be comfortable and fun. Although some children approach the student visit with apprehension, almost all finish with huge smiles!

Typically children do well during their student visit when they've had previous experiences in a variety of social situations involving other children and adults. Explain to your child that he or she will be spending part of the day visiting a school where there will be a lot of fun activities as well as new people to meet. We advise that you don't tell your child that he or she “will be able to go to school at Catlin Gabel next year" or that the student visit will determine if he or she “can go to school at Catlin Gabel." There are many variables that factor into admission decisions; we don't want any child to feel that he or she wasn't offered admission because of their actions on the student visit day.

And finally, please make sure your child receives a good night's sleep and has a healthy breakfast before coming to the visit.

How can I prepare my child for their Middle or Upper School student visit?

The best way to prepare is to have them take a deep breath and anticipate a great day. After registering for your child for a visit they will have an opportunity to tell us about their interests on the Pre-Visit Questionnaire. We do our best to match your child with a student host and class schedule that matches their interests. They will want to consider their answer to “why Catlin Gabel" in preparation for their conversations with students and faculty throughout the day. Please make sure they get a good night's sleep and have a healthy breakfast before coming to the visit. Lunch will be provided.

What if my child does not have a teacher to ask for an evaluation?

If Catlin Gabel will be your child's first formal school experience and therefore doesn't have a teacher to complete an evaluation, please call the admission office to discuss other options such as a music teacher, coach, or other adult (who isn't related to you) that has interacted with your child on a regular basis.

Can my family apply for a scholarship or financial assistance?

Yes. Please visit our Affording Catlin Gabel page for more information.

Are application fee waivers available?

Yes, fee waivers are available for the online application for admission, the SSAT and the SSS financial assistance application.

For an application fee or SSAT fee waiver, complete the Fee Waiver Request Form.

For the SSS financial assistance application, the fee is automatically waived for households that qualify for free lunch under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

For further information contact the admission office at 503-297-1894 or at admission@catlin.edu.

What is the average GPA/SSAT score of applicants who are offered admission?

Although the Catlin Gabel admission committee has no minimum grade or score requirements for acceptance, the average admitted applicant maintained an "A/B" average at his or her previous school, and below is a look at how applicants admitted to Catlin Gabel have scored on the SSAT over the last three years.

Admit Grade
Average SSAT Score

Can we reapply the following year if we don’t get in?

Yes. Each year we have more applicants than available spaces, which means there are many wonderful applicants who are not offered admission. The application process starts over every September. We ask any applicant who wishes to apply for admission again to complete a new online application by the published deadline.

How does your wait pool work?

Students who meet the standards but are not offered admission due to space limitations are offered a place in our wait pool. The students in this wait pool aren't ranked, but rather, if an opening occurs, we will look to the wait pool and select an applicant who has the best potential to fill the needs of the class. Openings can occur any time between our initial offers of admission in March and shortly before school starts in September. We don't admit students after the start of the school year or carry over our wait pool from year to year. Anyone who is not admitted from the wait pool and would like to be considered for admission begins the admission process again in the fall.

What is the length of the school day?

Preschool is from 8:20 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.

Kindergarten is from 8:20 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.

Lower School is from 8:15 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.

Middle School is from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Upper School is from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Are buses available?

Families are strongly encouraged to use Catlin Gabel's bus service, which offers five routes each morning and afternoon. Buses arrive on campus by 7:45 a.m. and depart at 3:30 p.m. In addition to single rides, the school offers a variety of packages including an annual pass, annual morning or afternoon only pass, half-year pass, and a half-year morning or afternoon only pass. Package discounts are also provided for siblings. We encourage you to view the current routes and stops on our Transportation page. Reduced bus fares are available for families receiving financial assistance from the school.

Is before- and after-school care available?

The Before-School Program is available to Beginning & Lower School students from 7:15 to 8:15 a.m. at no extra cost to families.

Our After-School Program is available to students in the Beginning & Lower School from 3 to 6 p.m. There is a full-time rate as well as a daily rate that is based on the child's pick-up time and this is billed monthly.

For rates and more information on before-school care, extended day, and our After-School Program please visit our Before- & After-School Program page.

An independent preschool through 12th grade day school in Portland, Oregon
8825 SW Barnes Road,
Portland, Oregon 97225 |
503-297-1894 |

Explore why Catlin Gabel is a national leader in progressive education.

We welcome more than 100 new families annually to our inclusive community from the Portland area and beyond.


A demanding and engaging program in which each student is the unit of consideration

Playing sports involves life lessons in determination, grace, and resilience. We invite everyone to be part of a team.

Extensive support ensures our students are successful.

Learn about Catlin Gabel news and events on campus and beyond.

We foster a community that appreciates our differences and recognizes our essential unity

Every gift benefits our students. Every volunteer hour builds our community.

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