before or after catechism?
In my OCA church, after. Like Cymbyz, we had a catechism class (but is was not called that) in the fall, which ended by Holy Week, after which the option of chrismation was available on Holy Saturday. Those who chose this option (I was not one of them), spent a couple of hours in the catechumate. There was no pressure to go this route.
In fact, the first time I took the course I was not asked if I wanted chrismation.
After study, prayer, etc., I later became a catechumen. This is the exception rather than the rule, but I entered the catecumenate by (very short) ceremony after a holy day service (I forget the official term for holy days). I waited two years before being chrismated.
This follows a practice encouraged by John Chrystostom, who wanted people to spend three years as a catechumen. Today, this is the exception rather than the rule. After I became an official catechumen, I walked out of Divine Liturgy at the dismissal of the catechumens. This is also highly unusual.
Other people joined without completing the course. In all cases, the priest needed to approve.
I'm glad that I did it as I did, but I'd be the first to say that my way isn't for everybody.