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How To Survive Your College Visit

By Jim Nguyen

Whether you plan to do this once or a number of times, open up to the experience of visiting a college or university! More than just a series of campus pictures, the visit is one of those experiences that will actually give you a glimpse of how you will live your post-secondary years.

But then worries and anxious thoughts can start to get in. Where is the admissions table? What are the workshops? Where is this building with the name that I am having trouble pronouncing? How long do I have between workshops? How long is lunch?

A photo of the Westlands Building- the Undergraduate Admissions building in Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York

And before you know it, the first thing you want to do is to panicBut fear not – college visits can be scary in some ways (the Halloween Haunted House was like that this year, to be honest).   To ease some of your worries, here are a few tips on how to make the most of your college visits:

  1. Research beforehand

A difference between a college campus visit and a college fair is that you are going to only see one college during a visit. An important point: Admissions representatives will assume that all students attending a visit are at least partially interested in attending that particular college. To avoid visiting schools that match none of your interests and to have a more solid idea of what  colleges might offer you, you should do bit of research before scheduling your visits. Some good things to research are academic programs and course offerings, majors and minors, residential life, campus engagement such as clubs and student organizations, internships, and scholarships/financial aid, to name a few. If you have some basic knowledge about the college, it is a real plus, since “campus visits are usually more towards interacting with the current students rather than learning the basic information,” according to Ms. Sara Keimig, Senior Assistant Director of Admission at Sarah Lawrence College.

2) Search for open house days to attend

Open house days are when a college will provide an introduction to all students who are interested in applying to and attending that school. Usually, you will see many prospective students who are as nervous as you when visiting an open house, as compared to when you go to see a college on your own. Plus, an open house provides more events to attend that would not usually be held at other times (think admissions panel, workshops and introductory sessions). Also, there is usually a free lunch during open houses!

3) Plan ahead

An important thing I learned from the process of going to a large number of college visits (four this year alone) is that you cannot wait until the last minute to sign up. This is less of a problem with smaller or mid-size schools with a focus on liberal arts, social sciences, and the humanities like Sarah Lawrence College or Lesley University. But, it will definitely be a problem with more competitive schools.  

How to Survive Your College Visit

Continued from the Printed Version

If your school is far away from the City of Boston (Bentley University, UMass Amherst, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College) or even away from Massachusetts itself (New York University, Sarah Lawrence College, Vassar College, University of New Hampshire, Colby College, et cetera), it is crucial for you to plan ahead so that you can have adequate time to actually enjoy the visit (avoid exhaustion) and get back to school to resume your classes at CATS.  Be sure to watch for inclement weather (rain, snow, sleet, et cetera) and traffic (train delays, bus delays) and plan accordingly.

4) Bring a companion if possible

Bringing companions with you on the campus visit will often be wise, especially if you are applying to the same colleges and have similar interests. Touring a campus together can lower any anxiety or stress a little bit and make the experience less of a challenge and more of an exploratory experience. One thing: Be sure to clearly tell the school how many companions you are bringing with you to the visit – space is always limited!

5) Interact and ask questions

It may seem daunting at first, but asking questions and interacting with admissions officers, current students, and faculty members will greatly benefit you on your college application journey. Gaining a more personal understanding of the college you are visiting will help you in the process of actually choosing a place where you belong. Also, admission representatives and department chairs are not that scary in person – so try to interact with them. You will quickly realize that they are the most helpful individuals that you can meet on a college campus. If you are confused about the kind of questions you might ask during a panel discussion, try some of these:

  • What is the one thing that stood out, for you as a student, about this school?
  • What is the the best memory you have of working (or in case of an alumni, studying) at the school?
  • What are some more details about the academic/athletic/social/residential life of the student body?
  • What are some traditions at the school?
  • How do you pronounce the name of a specific building?
  • Describe the one professor/class that made you especially glad that you choose to be in this program?
  • How is the food?
  • In your opinion, what should all students try to do while attending the school?

6) Do not be too dependent on the rankings

Something that I cannot emphasize enough for CATS students in particular is that the rankings will not dictate your experience at a school (which is why I recommend you to go to the campus yourself to take a look at what you are signing up for). Your college experience will include both what the school can offer and what you get from the experience of attending it. And not everyone will have the same goal in mind. In Vietnamese, we have an idiom that goes “nine people, yet ten opinions,” meaning that there will always be discourse over an issue – and the crucial thing for you to know is what you want from your own education. Therefore, keep the rankings in mind (they offer a more objective perspective than the colleges themselves), but also keep in mind that how you feel during your campus visit – if you feel uneasy, then reconsider applying no matter who recommends it to you.

7) You do not need to go to every open house offered

No matter your present academic situation, your health and wellness should take priority.  Schedule college visits with you in mind.  Pace yourself, and try to enjoy investigating the opportunities which await you post-CATS. You do not need to visit every college on your application list, but I highly recommend that you visit at least one or two!

And there we go–seven tips for how not to panic during your college campus visit. Now, when you are standing at the college campus entrance, you will have some tips for achieving the best college campus visit experience. So breathe in, smile, and walk up to the admissions table. You can do this!

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CATS’ Fall Play “She Kills Monsters” 

By Norah Laoui

The 2018 Fall play at CATS Academy started in the middle of September with auditions that lasted for about two days.  Students read the introduction monologue and acted out scenes with other students. In this way, our cast was formed!

We then began our production of “She Kills Monsters” by Qui Nguyen. The play follows an average girl named Agnes who tries to learn more about her little sister, Tilly, through a Dungeons & Dragons game that her sister created. The story jumps in and out of the imaginary world that her sister has created. Filled with awesome sword fights and all things geeky, the story is exciting, but, more importantly, it explores the relationships (good and bad) between each of the characters. The play is an amazing story that can make you laugh and cry or perhaps even empathize with the characters to understand deeper messages that theater can sometimes teach an audience. 

With the show fast approaching, our cast worked hard, along with the play’s director and stage crew, to bring this story’s powerful message to life. The cast met after school every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 4:00 to 5:45 and, at times, even on the weekends from September through the end of November.

       Photo credit to Noah Ellegood

There’s a saying: “A cast can become like a small family within a community.” Our cast proved this saying true. At the beginning of rehearsal most days, we played a fun team-building exercise like the game Ninja to get to know each other better and to shake off any stresses from the day. No matter how good or bad our day was, play rehearsal always made us smile, laugh, and just have fun together. We can’t thank Mr. Punches our amazing director enough for all he’s dedication and hard work to help us prepare to present this production of “She Kills Monsters” and all his hard work on building the set. We also want to thank Mr. Napier, Mr. Archer, Mr. Phelan and Mr. Lewan and everyone else who helped us for their amazing work on the props and set designs and music which gave the show a professional aura.

From the cast and crew, we hope you enjoyed the play as much as we enjoyed performing it for you!

Fiestaval 2018 Photos

By: CATS Media Club

May 2018 Artist of the Month

Nicole Phan

April 2018 Student of the Month

Artem Vyshinskiy

CATS Madness Photos 2018

All photos by CATS Media Club

April 2018 Artist of the Month

Winner: Suet Yi Li (Shirley)

Filmmaker Michael Barry Interview

Interviewed by Anastasia Dvoryanchikova

Filmmaker and Historian Presents Film on Vietnam

Film is a meaningful artform that gives its director a way to deliver creative content through both a visual and oral means. The creator is allowed to dig deeper into the content and create an emotional connection with the audience while making the topic come into a more focused view. This  method of film can be especially used when director’s create films based on historical events. On the February 16th, the power of film was displayed in full force when CATS Academy Boston welcomed a historian and filmmaker, Michael T. Barry Jr., who introduced his film The Universal Soldier: Vietnam. The film focuses on the nature of the Vietnam War while discussing both Vietnamese and American perspectives about the war.

How did you come up with an idea of making the film “The Universal Soldier”? Where did you get inspiration from?

The title itself comes from a protest song “The Universal Soldier” of the 1960s, which questions the whole idea of going to the war, since all humans share the same universal feelings and emotions. My collaborator, Karen Turner, professor at the Holly Cross, decided to develop this content with the material that she had collected over the years. Also, we wanted to reach out to the millenniums, who are so distant from the war, in the way that was both compassionate and intimate with those experience.

What is one thing you would like to highlight from “The Universal Soldier”?

Without any doubts, those conversations with veterans, who were going through all the struggles. At the same time, I was taken aback by how generous, kind and giving veterans were. Both Americans and Vietnamese. All these individuals were open minded and wanted to share with young people the continuous impact wa hadr on their lives, and what they have been through. Coming back to the question, I  don’t want to underscore the generosity veterans had in their approaches to people. I haven’t seen  this among many others individuals.

Besides the emotional part, your research involved factual information, which was based on the cruel reality of the war. Did you have any doubts about showing the devastation of the Vietnam War before the process of filmmaking?

        Yes, absolutely. At the beginning we were anxious to push young people away by talking about violence. We had to do it delicately, but it turned out that our audience was mature enough to embrace it. Another challenge for us was to deal with emotions. Our fear was that sensitive material might set some patriotic veterans off, which rarely happened later in process.

To reach your audience in the most accurate way, did you use filmmaking as a technology or more in an artistic way?

It was done mainly in an artistic way. The initial idea wasn’t to show the technological process in the film industry, but to let people speak out. It was purposefully filmed with small cameras and microphones, so that interviewees don’t feel pressure. We were aiming to get the most authentic stories with less technologies, as the oral historians.

As a historian and a filmmaker, what do you see as a goal for your career?

My biggest goal is to give voice to people whose stories were unheard and marginalized, especially by the government. As well I want to make both veterans and audience a part of these projects to integrate tolerance and acceptance in our community.

From Your own experience, what advice would you give to young filmmakers?

That’s a tough question. But I would say: be open. When it comes to interviews or any content that includes other people and their stories, it is important to stay respectful to their life-stories and emotions attached to them, so that they don’t feel embarrassed. To be a good filmmaker in this kind of genre is to stay collaborative.

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