How To Survive Catalyst

Is Catalyst the starting point of all your stress? Are you the Catalyst student that’s sitting in class not knowing what to do? Can you not keep up with all the paperwork that is given?


The Catalyst Program is a student directed, self-study project where students are challenged to create and design their own learning experience by pursuing an area of interest. Students work with a mentor, an expert in the field in which the project is about, and grow intellectually, socially and emotionally. Now, the Catalyst Program is a mandatory school course. Meaning that there are students who are responsible enough to conduct a study on their passion, and students who are not. For those students, Catalyst can be seen as a conductor of stress that inhibits their potential. If you are one of those students, how do you prevent this? Here are a couple of tips that you can use that will help you take on the Catalyst Program!

  1. Get an idea – ASAP!

When I took Catalyst last year, over one third of my class didn’t have an idea for their projects, a month into the course. This really affected their grade and they couldn’t keep up with the paperwork that was needed for grading. To avoid this, you should get an idea before the course has even started! “Chunk out! Find a goal as early as possible,” Catalyst Teacher, Vicky Colorado, said. By having an idea ahead of time, you will not be slacking off throughout the course.

  1. Pick a project that is in your reach.

Often times, students choose projects that are very difficult to obtain. For example, picking a project about making a movie will most likely result in you only making a trailer, as making an entire movie is a very long and hard process.  So, make sure to create a project that you know you will be able to complete in one semester.

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  1. Get a mentor during the first month of the course.

Put yourself out there! Make sure to reach out and find a mentor that excels in the field in which you want to base your project on. In order to avoid not having a mentor three months into the project, I would suggest getting one during the first month of the course. This will help your time management and will help you build a successful relationship with a professional adult. “Mentorship was the most rewarding part of my Catalyst experience. By putting myself out there, I was able to build a good relationship with my mentor and keep a positive mindset,” said Catalyst student and member of the Catalyst Fellowship Team, Allison Sommer.

  1. Manage your time wisely.

Be your own boss! Catalyst is a student driven course, and “the minute that students aren’t supervised, if there is no accountability, you will slack off and that will affect your grade,” Ms. Colorado explained. “For the first time you’re given an opportunity… but if you are not able to manage your own time, you’re going to mess up,” she continued. I would suggest creating a calendar or agenda with all the important due dates for all the required paperwork. Use your class time wisely, instead of going on Facebook or Snapchat. If you are wise with your time management, you will be on top of everything and take on the course!

Catalyst shouldn’t stress you out anymore! If you take these tips into consideration heading into the course, Catalyst won’t be as hard as it seems. I guarantee you that you will be very well-prepared for your semester ahead. You will have a positive mindset, and will excel in the course!

Author: Nerina Vassiliadis

Nerina Vassiliadis is a senior who has been attending SAS for two years. This is her first year being part of the Eye! Her hobbies include making films, acting, directing, watching tv shows (specifically Friends) and movies, and spending time with friends and family. She can be contacted at

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