Cathedral Preparatory School
Villa Maria Academy


When should I plan to arrive?

New students should arrive two weeks before their first day of school. The school Admissions Office will be in communication with newly enrolled students to determine the best date to arrive. The week prior to the first day of classes there is a very fun and informative orientation in which newly enrolled students will become acquainted with their new school, city, and local attractions.


Whom should I contact with my travel information?

As soon as you obtain your student visa and book your airline tickets, please email Mr. Timothy Dougherty, Director of Admissions, with your flight information and itinerary. Make sure that your final destination is Erie, PA USA (Erie International Airport). We will be on hand to welcome you, transport you to your host family, settle you in, make sure you have what you need, and give you a detailed packet of information about the orientation program and everything you need to get ready for the school year.


What will life be like in Northwest Pennsylvania?

Living arrangements:
You will be living with a host family that has been carefully screened and selected based on your preferences. You will be given your own bedroom which will consist of a comfortable bed, a closet, a dresser, and a desk for you to work on your studies. You will have access to high-speed internet in order to do school work and to communicate with family and friends back home. Host families will include you in all family activities which will allow you to experience an authentic American family lifestyle. You will be provided breakfast every day before school, a free lunch at school, and then a hot meal for dinner each evening.

What is the weather like?

The climate of Erie is typical of the Great Lakes. Erie is located in the snow belt and winters are typically cold, with heavy lake effect snow, but also with occasional stretches of mild weather that causes accumulated snow to melt. Erie's climate is warm during summer when temperatures tend to range from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In Erie you are able to experience the beauty of all four of the seasons.


What shall I bring with me? Clothing? School supplies? Can I ship things in advance?

Once you obtain your visa and your travel plans are set, we will be happy to store any items that you want to ship ahead of time. Send them to Villa Maria Academy 2403 West 8th Street Erie, PA 16505 USA or Cathedral Preparatory School 225 West 9th Street Erie, PA 16501 USA.

You will be provided with school uniforms during your orientation program. You will be required to wear your uniform during school days. Outside of school you can dress as you please. It will be warm when you arrive and stay that way through October. Light summer clothing will be sufficient for the first few months. As the weather turns, a warm winter jacket, a waterproof jacket/windbreaker, sweaters, and other warmer clothing are good for the winter. There will be a lot of snow during winter, so good quality snow boots are necessary. You will have the opportunity to purchase boots and other winter accessories after you arrive in the United States.

School supplies: 
You will need notebooks, pens, pencils, a calculator, a backpack, a 3-ring binder, and a few other supplies depending on your schedule. You may purchase your items and bring them to the United States with you, however it is recommended that you purchase your school supplies once you arrive. Please purchase an English-Chinese dictionary and bring it with you. We forbid the use of cellular phones in class, even if it is to use as a dictionary.

During orientation, each international student will have the opportunity to open bank accounts at a local bank. In order to open bank accounts, students are advised to bring cash or travelers checks, or have money wired from their bank in China to their local accounts in the U.S. There is no balance required to open a bank account at a US Bank. Parents will be able to wire money to their student's bank accounts throughout the school year (as needed) for spending money.

Credit Cards: 
It is strongly advised that each international student travel with a Visa credit card to be used for incidentals throughout the year.

Financial Questions:
How do we pay tuition charges?
A wire transfer of funds is required. This is the safest and most secure method. Payments must be made in full by September 1, 2012. For additional wiring instructions, please contact Eileen Behringer at

Are there any additional fees?

No. All fees will be included in tuition.

All books will provided to you free of charge on your first day of school.

Trips to Washington, D.C., New York City, and Niagara Falls are included in the price of tuition. Transportation, hotel arrangements, and sight-seeing fees are all included in the tuition. The students will want to bring spending money to purchase souvenirs or other items. These trips will take place during the school year and the details will be discussed during the orientation.

Athletic Fees:
International students are permitted to participate in our athletic program and there are NO athletic fees for international students.

Who is the person to contact with financial questions?

Mark Zukowski, Chief Financial Officer, can answer all of your financial questions at



When do I get my schedule of classes?

We will begin working on your schedule as soon as you are accepted into Villa Maria Academy or Cathedral Preparatory School. We will have a tentative schedule prepared for you before you arrive. During the orientation program you will meet with our teachers and counselors and confirm that you are pleased with the proposed schedule.


What about English Language Services (ESL)?

Villa Maria Academy and Cathedral Prep will offer ESL classes to all international students on a daily basis. We will give every student all the support and coaching in English we can to ensure success at Villa and in college.


What about college counseling?

All students will have several meetings with our Guidance Department throughout their years at Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria Academy. Our Guidance Department helps students through the college preparation and selection process. In addition to preparing students for the SAT and college acceptance, the Guidance Department will also arrange opportunities for all the students to meet with representatives of colleges and universities from around the nation.


What extracurricular activities are available?

Villa Maria Academy and Cathedral Prep offer many optional extracurricular activities such as the Theater Program, Academic Sports League, musical groups, Student Council, Debate Club, and even community activist groups. Both schools also offer thirteen varsity sports. All international students are strongly encouraged to become involved in a club, activity, or sport. 

During orientation, students will learn in detail about each of these, the hours they meet, and what level of commitment they require. Additionally, special programs and events designed to help the international students get to know the local students and staff and to make friends more quickly and become comfortable in the community will be required. Weekend activities will include theater performances, school dances, and attendance at school sporting events among others. A monthly calendar of events will be given to the students.


What will the August orientation cover?

A full orientation agenda will be sent to each student before arrival. Here is a list of items that will be covered, both fun and business!
* Host Family Introduction
* Getting to know Erie (the city where the dormitory is located)
* Obtaining cell phones
* Obtaining bank accounts
* Meeting the Villa Maria Academy staff
* Meeting Villa Maria Academy and Cathedral Prep students
* F-1 visas: explaining responsibilities
* Survey of students' interests
* American classroom expectations and culture
* School supplies needed for each student based on schedules
* Shopping!
* ESL classes

Can I participate in interscholastic athletics?

All international students are eligible to compete for Villa Maria Academy or Cathedral Prep in athletics for all four years of high school or until they turn 19 years old. In other words, no students older than 18 years of age may compete. Interscholastic sports teams and competitions in Pennsylvania are governed by a state agency, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) which has some precise rules.


How do I fulfill the community service requirement?

Villa Maria Academy and Cathedral Prep offer many opportunities to help students find community service projects. Several announcements will be made during the school year to the students with local non-profit agencies that are in need of volunteers. International Students are also permitted to fulfill their community service requirement by volunteering at school functions such as the Open House and other fundraisers.

We know you will have many questions as you prepare to start your school year with us. Here you will find useful information that will answer many of your questions. Feel free to contact Mr. Timothy Dougherty Director of Enrollment Management, either by phone at 814-453-7737 x 3 (office) or by email or Ms. Christine Uht, Associate Director of Enrollment Management, either by phone at (814) 838-2061, extension 3239, or via e-mail at