Things are Hot…

Sorry to bring up the weather again, but it really is unusually hot here (90F/27C)! The students have been enjoying all kinds of activities to distract them from the temperature. First up: a sweet tooth tour of Oxford! The Fudge Kitchen was nice enough to provide free samples and a fudge-making demonstration! The Belgian Chocolate was definitely a winner. We all moved on to the Covered Market in the centre of town, where some students chose Ben’s Cookies (whose logo was designed by Roald Dahl’s illustrator), and some had just about anything they wanted mixed in to a custom milkshake at Moo Moo’s. Luckily, our last stop did not require any immediate consumption of sweets: Hardy’s Sweet Shop, an old-fashioned candy store reminiscent of (speaking of Roald Dahl) Willy Wonka!

In the evening, some students enjoyed a lazy punt ride on the river and didn’t do too badly for their first times. Others tossed a frisbee around on LMH’s generous back fields. Still more designed their own postcards and watercolors at Art Night, so parents should look out for some mail in the coming weeks!

Things are Heating Up

It was a beautiful day here in Oxford, with temperatures upward of 27C/80F, a perfect environment for outdoor activities and a first night open in town! First up was the Lady Margaret Hall Scavenger Hunt. We try to make sure every student has the chance to get to know everyone on the program, so they were paired up with yet another new group and sent around campus to perform a series of challenges including speed friending, croquet, a British flag jigsaw, and the human knot. It was great to see all the sunny smiles and hear conversations between new friends.

After dinner, students joined a pickup soccer game where a couple of the girls gave the boys a run for their money. RAs Laura and Katie made sure they all stayed hydrated in the heat, and then a group headed out to G&D’s, a local homemade ice cream joint. Speculoos, cardamom and saffron, and salted caramel ice cream was a great way to cool off the hot day!

Making Summer Count

Classes are coming to a close for our Summerfuelers. Over the past two weeks, students have studied with Princeton Review tutors in over 18 hours of SAT or ACT prep as well as completed 3 diagnostic tests. Many students have seen significant jumps in their scores and we are proud of all that they have accomplished. Students are also walking away with polished and edited personal statements after working with our essay writing specialists, Nikki and Caitlin. In addition, each student has logged over 8 hours in Admissions workshops with our veteran college counselors as well as at least 2 personalized, individual meetings going over things like likely-target-reach schools, financial aid, and the general application process. Students have truly made their summer count and are ready to start their junior and senior years of high school strong.


We also went on our final two college tours this week to the University of San Francisco and Stanford University.

USF is a medium-sized, private university affiliated with the Catholic Church. Students took a tour of their beautiful campus that had great views of the city. The motto at USF is “Change the World from Here” as the university has a strong social justice component – in fact, it has been on the Higher Ed Community Service Honor Roll for 8 years in a row. USF is also ranked in the Top 20 of entrepreneurial schools – about one third of students study something in the Business and Marketing fields. Our tour guides, both USF students, explained to us why they loved USF from the diversity to living in San Francisco to the strong Nursing program to caring faculty. As student interest went from our group, this was one of the most popular tours yet.









During free time, some of the guys played soccer on the quad and some girls got manicures and pedicures with Sarah. There were also water gun and water balloon fights with everyone and a movie night at the local cinema – Finding Dory was a huge hit!




Up next was Stanford. On Friday, Summerfuelers hopped on a bus to Palo Alto for a campus tour of one of the best universities in the world. Our tour guide, Lilly, did a great job giving us the history of Stanford and fun facts about the university. Students were in awe of the gorgeous campus as well as all of the opportunities available to students at Stanford. It was a great trip to round out our college tours!







We can’t believe the program is coming to an end! This has been a great group and they have made lasting friendships. Everyone is excited to hang out tonight all together one last time during our final celebration. On the agenda is a pizza party, root beer and coke floats, and a Karaoke and dance party with a DJ.





A Day in the Life…

So, parents and friends of CAP Berkeley 2016, what exactly do Summerfuelers do in their free time? In between studying, essay writing, and college prep, students are often found…


Rockin’ their new Cal gear

Singing loud for all to hear


Taking selfies

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Playing Pokemon Go – gotta catch’em all!


Having dance parties


…and dance parties


Playing 4 square


…and other fun games


Going on Target and Walgreens excursions (Isis would like her mother to know she is keeping up with her hygiene)


Taking more selfies


Showing off their unique talents (like Go, Sophia, and Carol playing the piano!)


Exploring Berkeley’s campus and going into town


And, of course, beachin’


….honorable mention goes to late night Froyo runs (we love our ice cream and yogurt here at CAP Berkeley).

Weekend Update

CAP Berkeley Summerfuelers had a jam-packed weekend with excursions to San Francisco, essay writing workshops, and college counseling sessions. On Saturday, students shopped in Union Square and explored Fisherman’s Wharf, one of the most famous waterfront communities and a tourist hotspot.







Students returned to the city once again on Sunday for an adventure in Chinatown.  Fun fact: San Francisco Chinatown is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia as well as the oldest in North America. Go and Steve even enjoyed dim sum in the oldest dim sum restaurant in the U.S., Hang Ah Tea Room. Other students went to a restaurant that had floating sushi boats or checked out a fortune cookie factory where you could write your own fortunes.



Carol, Sophia, Alex, and Matteo pose outside Dragon Gate, the landmark gateway arch marking the entrance to Chinatown. This gate is the only authentic Chinatown Gate in North America.


These two photos were taken by Giulia, she has a great eye for capturing the beauty around her.


Summerfuelers walked away with lots of souvenirs from our weekend excursions and fun memories. Everyone turned in pretty early Sunday night in preparation for the second diagnostic SAT bright and early Monday morning. Students will take one final version of the test on Friday and will be able to see their scores from all three tests in order to look for improvement and where to focus any future studying.

What we’re looking forward to:
-Visiting the University of San Francisco on Wednesday and Stanford on Thursday.
-The final celebration on Friday night — a group of students are on the planning committee and we can’t wait to see what they come up with!

Happy Birthday, Carol!

Highlights from the day:

Carol turned 17!





Jackie and Ariel joined Sarah (RA) and Amani (Director) on a hike with beautiful views of Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco.



The College Admissions Workshop this evening was really helpful for students because they had a chance to do a mock reading of applications. Each student viewed three applications and decided which one would hypothetically be accepted into the university. Summerfuel’s college counselors both have experience working in Admissions or reading applications. Roseanna is a current reader for UC Berkeley, so students received valuable insight on what admissions officers are looking for and how they can put their best selves forward in their applications. To celebrate a job well done, a group of students went to a local ice cream shop after for milkshakes and ice cream sandwiches with fresh baked cookies. Yum!





PS. HI ALEX’S PARENTS! She’s back on the grid 🙂IMG_0809

Santa Cruzin’

Yesterday was an exciting day as we visited the University of California, Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. UC Santa Cruz is a large, public research university that is a part of the UC system. Summerfuelers learned a great deal about what it takes to be admitted and other fun facts from an admissions officer during an information session.
-In the 2014-15 Times Higher Education world rankings, UC Santa Cruz was ranked first in research influence as measured by the number of times its faculty’s published work is cited by scholars around the world.
-UCSC has phenomenal programs and esteemed faculty in engineering, biology, feminist studies … and many more, with 66 majors, 38 minors, and 52 concentrations available.
-There are ten residential colleges that students have a chance to join, each with a theme and dining options.
-Over 70% of undergraduate students are involved with research. Since there are significantly more undergraduate students than graduate students, UCSC faculty relies on undergraduate students to assist in conducting and publishing research.

The UCSC campus is huge, over 2,000 acres, and looks out over the beautiful Monterey Bay. Many students could not believe it was a university’s campus because, at times, it felt like we were in the middle of a national park as we walked through the redwood forests.  Everyone appreciated becoming a Banana Slug for the day and a couple of students are excited to submit a UCSC application in the future.





After our tour, we hopped back on the bus and headed over to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for a fun evening riding roller coasters, eating fair food novelties, shopping, and walking on the beach. Students really enjoyed this time to decompress, relax, and enjoy themselves.







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Visiting Santa Clara University – The Campus with a Mission

Our first college visit was to the beautiful Jesuit university in the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara University. SCU is a medium-sized, private university located in Santa Clara, California spanning 106 acres. The home of the Broncos has top notch programs in engineering and business, just to name a few. Students got to sit down with an admissions counselor for a quick Q&A session and student panel before going on a campus tour. We learned about the fundamental values of the university:

-Academic Excellence
-The Search for Truth, Goodness, and Beauty
-Engaged Learning
-Commitment to Students
-Service to Others
-Community and Diversity
-Jesuit Distinctiveness






After being prepped the day before by CAP-Berkeley Summerfuel college counselors, our students asked great questions during the information session and tour. Our tour guides, rising sophomores at the university, helped us understand why the school was the right fit for them and what they loved about SCU like the community building, food, commitment to social justice, students clubs and activities, and small, intellectually stimulating classes.



One of our awesome tour guides, a sophomore from Minnesota, was great about answering questions open and honestly- thank you, Sam!




Some of our students excitedly added SCU to their college list and others were able to appreciate it, but scratch it off theirs- either way, it was a very productive visit for Summerfuelers. We are looking forward to visiting UC Santa Cruz later today!