List of 7 frequently asked questions.

  • Q: What are your academic plans for the 2024-2025 school year in terms of Covid guidelines.

    SBMS is proud to offer our full on-campus program in 2024-2025. The quality of the lessons, and student engagement continues to be at the forefront of every decision we make. We will monitor local and national guidelines throughout the year and make necessary adjustments if needed.
  • Q: Do we need to reapply if we have applied in previous years?

    Yes. The growth we see in the adolescent years is often so significant. As an admissions team, we seek to fully understand the most current strengths and opportunities of our applicants.
  • Q: With which schools do you have the highest overlap in applications?

    In recent years, we have had the most overlap with Laguna Blanca School, Marymount, The Anacapa School, and Crane Country Day School.
  • Q: What type of student is SBMS looking to enroll?

    SBMS enrolls uniquely talented and well-rounded students. We seek students from a variety of backgrounds who share the passion and determination to do their best.  Those who do well at SBMS respect one another's interests and talents, and enjoy an energetic life that is balanced by intellect, arts, outdoor adventure and community involvement.

    We look for applicants who are at grade level, or above. While there is no "typical" SBMS student, our students share a commitment to “The Deal”, which means at every juncture they promise to put forth their best effort, treat others with kindness, and positively contribute to our community.  We seek students who have a strong sense of integrity and an openness to try new things. 
  • Q: What can I expect when I come to visit SBMS?

    We welcome inquiring families for campus tours throughout our Admission season. To schedule a tour, please contact our Admission Director, Mandy Westerman at  A school tour is a good way to get a feel for Middle School’s friendly and open atmosphere, as well as learn about our academic program and observe learning in action. Families will learn about our unique four-sided “Diamond Philosophy” which includes academics, outdoor education, creative arts and sports, and community.  The campus tour lasts about 45 minutes.
  • Q: How many new students do you enroll each year?

    While each year is different, we generally receive about 120 applications and enroll close to 60 new students; 20- 24 students in the 6th grade and 40 students in the 7th grade.
  • Q: How diverse is SBMS's student body? Where do students come from?

    We have students from a wide range of geographic areas in Santa Barbara and enroll students from most of the elementary schools in Santa Barbara county.  Our current population includes 22% BIPOC (students of color) and is a welcoming community to all genders and nationalities. It is a high priority of the school and its strategic mission to do better at building a more diverse population of students, teachers and staff.


List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • Q: How many classes do students take at one time?

    Typically, 6th-9th grade students take their five academic classes in the morning—English, math, science, language, and Social Studies/History. Our academic classes are fairly “traditional” in the way in which instruction is delivered. This includes direct instruction, inquiry-based projects, and socratic seminars and discussions. These methodologies are coupled with on-going formative and summative assessments throughout a given unit of study. Additionally, 2-3 times a year each class and/or grade level takes the time to dive deeply into integrated, project-based learning units.  
    Samples of Project-based Learning
    A typical 6th grade project is our Shark Tank unit where each team of students determines an environmental problem that needs solving in a Spanish speaking country. They then set out to design a creative solution to that problem using design-inspired, environmental science principles, and buoyancy tests for transporting their product to market. Students design promotional brochures, use their Spanish site words to identify keywords, and finally “pitch” their new product to the “Sharks” (their parents) using persuasive public speaking skills. 

    In 7th grade students are both inspired and enlightened to learn about the small business needs in other countries in their Human Geography “Walk for Water” unit. After a financial literacy course, and tips on how to fundraise for their own investment in a small business, students select a business in which to invest through our community partner, As a follow-up, the students read the book “A Long Walk to Water” and then are challenged to design their own water-carrying device, and trek their own buckets of water to school on a designated day.  For extra credit, they work hard to only use the water they transported as their daily allotment of water.

    Creative Arts & Sports
    In the afternoon the students engage in our elective program, where they are enrolled in two elective classes. These interactive classes range from fine art classes such as drawing and painting, ceramics, and crafts, to drama, media arts, photography, guitar, sports classes (yoga, ultimate Frisbee, pickleball and strength training), and team sports in soccer, basketball, volleyball and flag football. We also offer Homework Labs each quarter as an elective class option.
  • Q: Are students who are above grade level able to move at their own pace?

    In math and Spanish, whenever possible, students are placed in the class that matches their ability, not necessarily their grade. SBMS is known for its “untethered” math program where students thrive in homogeneous classes in which students share similar levels of math proficiency. The same is true for those students in Spanish who are at a more advanced level. With these sequential, skill-based subjects, SBMS works hard to meet the individual needs of each student. 
  • Q: What is the average class size?

    Our current average class size is between 18 - 20 students per class.  If needed, following the CDC Covid-19 recommendations, our fixed student cohorts are limited to 12-16 students per group.
  • Q: Do you offer extra support for students with learning differences?

    We have a strong Learning Skills program for those students who need accommodations to their learning/ teaching program. These are students with an identified mild to moderate learning difference and have an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) or a 504 Accommodation plan. Our Learning Specialist helps these students who have learning differences, and together they assess areas of difficulty and develop a plan to better manage their challenges and to ensure academic success. It is important to note, SBMS is a fast-moving program that demands a lot of flexibility and resilience from our students. New applicants who wish to be in our Learning Skills program must submit a comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation completed within the last two years. There is an additional tuition fee for enrollment in this SBMS program.
  • Q: How can parents and students track progress and grades?

    Our online grading system (called “the HUB”) allows parents and students to follow their academic progress all year long. Teachers are expected to update their grades each week. Teachers, mentors, and deans routinely keep tabs on students who need extra attention so they can step in and offer support. At SBMS, our staff works hard to keep all of our students on track and positively moving toward their academic goals.
  • Q: Where do your graduates typically attend high school and college?

    Our graduates successfully transition to all of the local area high schools, as well as enroll in high schools that are out of our area. Typically, 75% of our graduates return to public schools and 25% choose independent high schools.  

    In the past five years, we have sent our students to the following schools: Dos Pueblos High School (Engineering and International Baccalaureate), Santa Barbara High School (MAD, VADA and Computer Science), Carpinteria High School and San Marcos High School (Aaple Academy, Health Careers, and Entrepreneurship), Laguna Blanca School, Cate School, The Thacher School, Dunn School, Midland School, Stevenson School, The Anacapa School, Bishop Garcia Diego, 

    For a full list of where our graduates have matriculated on to college, please see the College Admission page.


List of 3 frequently asked questions.

  • Q: Does SBMS require PE for every student?

    Yes, SBMS follows the state-mandated guidelines for physical education. Students are offered a wide range of fitness options from team to sports to individual athletic activities.
  • Q: Can students who are involved in afterschool athletics opt-out of SBMS sports and apply for Independent PE?

    Yes, students who participate in an afterschool sport that meets a minimum of 3.5 hours a week either in practice or games, and is approved by their coach, are eligible for the Independent PE waiver. Students who meet the state standard for physical education outside of the school day are then free to choose from any of the afternoon electives that SBMS offers. Alternatively, those who have a signed Independent PE waiver on file at SBMS can be excused at 2:45p before the last elective class if their Independent sport requires them to do so.   
  • Q: How often do sports teams have games, and against whom do they compete?

    We offer competitive team sports in soccer, volleyball, basketball and flag football. Every student who signs up for a team sport is automatically on our team. We do not make any cuts to our team sports program. Typically, teams have games on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons that end about 5p. SBMS competes in the Christian Athletic League which includes: Crane Country Day School, Mt. Carmel, Notre Dame, Santa Barbara Christian, St. Raphael’s, Ojai Valley School, Laguna Blanca, and Marymount. 

Outdoor Education / Expedition Learning

List of 3 frequently asked questions.

  • Q: Can you share more about the outdoor education program. What has been the experience for students who have not spent much time on a bike or in the outdoors?

    Many students arrive with very little outdoor education experience. New 6th and 7th grade students are introduced thoughtfully to our expedition program. We begin with a two-day, school-wide orientation trip close to home. Students learn our basic expedition routines and protocols: how to ride with a partner, how to set up camp, how we cook and wash our dishes, and how our evening fires are central to the heart of SBMS. With each successive expedition, students grow more confident and more skilled, until they, themselves, are helping to lead trips as Bike Mechanics, Chuckwagon cooks, campfire performers, and as experienced 8th and 9th grade students. 

    Our trips are intentionally scaled to provide appropriate grade level support and challenge. By the end of four years, SBMS students are confident in themselves and competent in their ability to navigate the wilderness with a healthy dose of independence. SBMS’ trips are often some of the most memorable and life-changing moments of students’ lives here.
  • Q: What kind of outdoor expeditions will students experience? 

    We offer every kind of outdoor trip imaginable! From climbing Mount Whitney in the snow to kayaking in the Channel Islands. On bikes, students will cycle with a bike-bob trailer carrying all of their own gear, and as they mature you will find students on moderate or strenuous backpacking trips (of their own choosing) in a wide variety of wilderness settings. There is something for every level of outdoor enthusiast!
  • Q: What if a student has no camping gear or no knowledge of what to buy?

    SBMS has its own outfitting store, called “The Warehouse.” We offer high-quality gear at affordable prices. SBMS has a retail license and has fair, competitive prices for SBMS families. Almost everything your child needs for the expeditions can be purchased on campus at “The Warehouse.” We’ve done all of the work for you -- just make an appointment, and we’ll get you outfitted!

Student Life

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • Q: Will you describe a typical day at SBMS? 

    Scroll down on our home page to view a day in the life of an SBMS student.  
    Monday, Wednesday, Friday students meet in 45-minute sections for their core academic classes. Tuesday and Thursday classes meet for 55 minutes to allow for more in-depth projects and deeper class discussions. There is a mid-morning 20-minute break every day (with a free snack included) and lunch is 35 minutes.
  • Q: Do you offer any extracurricular activities or student clubs?

    Yes, we feel like we have something to offer everyone here at SBMS. The key is to jump in early and get involved. Our morning Diamond Time classes are designed to energize the students and get them starting each day feeling eager and ready. From our Community Action Club to Surf Team and Beach Volleyball (both which meet off campus), to art and yoga classes -- our students start the day inspired.  After school theater is available to any student who would like to participate. Our theater program is designed to be fun, whimsical and inclusive. Other electives and/or clubs that take students off-campus or have them staying after school include: Teen Press journalism, Math Counts competition, Robotics, and a variety of musical performances who perform each year at different venues and festivals, alongside our community partner, Roll n’ Rock Productions.
  • Q: What kind of academic, social and emotional support is available?

    SBMS has a strong, accessible network in place whereby when students need extra help they know where to go and who can help them. We have a Dean of Students for each grade level, and all of them are readily available to listen, troubleshoot and help our students learn to advocate for themselves and get the support that they need.  From counseling services to Homework Labs designed to help manage after school workloads, SBMS’ connected network is well equipped to support our students on their individual roads to success. 

    What’s important is that each student develops a relationship with an adult on campus to speak within times of academic or social need. We are confident that during the course of three or four years at SBMS, students and faculty become very close and develop friendships and mentorship that last well beyond the teenage years.
  • Q: Does SBMS offer counseling services?

    SBMS has a full-time on-campus counselor as well as a part-time support counselor. Typically students who see our counselors have been recommended either by a parent, teacher or they themselves opt-in. 

Tuition and Financial Aid

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • Q: How much is tuition for the 2023-2024 school year?

    Tuition for the 2023-2024 school year is $36,200. 
  • Q: How do we qualify for financial aid?

    Through a generous financial aid budget, SBMS has for decades put into practice its commitment to admitting and enrolling the most qualified and compelling students regardless of their families’ financial resources. Approximately 38% of students receive aid, through awards that vary according to family needs. Families who are concerned that SBMS may be beyond their means are encouraged to consider financial aid and financing options that can make SBMS an affordable and realistic choice. For the 2019-2020 school year, over $600,000 in financial aid was awarded. 

    When awarding financial aid, SBMS applies the results from our financial application form. Families wishing to be considered for financial aid must annually submit a Parents' Financial Statement (PFS). Parents are also required to submit their most recent tax information. The goal of the Financial Aid Committee is to ensure that each family's financial contribution toward tuition is a feasible, annual contribution. The deadline for all financial aid applications is the same date as Application for Admission.

    To apply for financial aid, please refer to this information on our website.
  • Q: Will applying for financial aid affect my child's chances for admission?

    The Admission Committee does not know if an applicant is applying for FA.  They are recommended for admission solely on the child’s qualifications.  Financial considerations should not deter anyone from applying for admission to SBMS. The Financial Aid Committee allocates need-based financial aid to as many qualified families as possible. However, on occasion, a family’s needs may be greater than the school's financial resources. In this situation, students may be placed in our wait pool.

    The Financial Aid Committee considers the financial resources of both parents and any step-parents. Both the custodial and non-custodial parents are required to complete financial aid applications.
  • Q: Will my child's financial aid award change from year to year?

    Awards are made on a year-to-year basis. Families must reapply annually if continued aid is sought. Unless there is a significant change in family circumstance, a family can expect that awards will remain relatively consistent. Increases in yearly tuition costs are typically shared by the family and SBMS.