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.





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

Can’t CAP our Fun

Today was filled with lots of challenging, yet rewarding classes – SAT prep, essay writing workshop, and a college admissions workshop. Students also started individually meeting with their assigned college counselors. These meetings will help them strategize about the college application process, get burning questions answered, and receive advice and assistance on what college(s) might be the best fit for them.


Peter meets with his college counselor, Jill, about what it takes to get into an Ivy League university.


During some free time in the afternoon. Pedro, one of our awesome RAs, set up some crafts for students to decompress and get creative. The ladies of CAP-Berkeley 2016 showed off their artistic side painting and decorating letters that spelled out Summerfuel. They look amazing!

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Coloring in the lines is not their style


What we’re looking forward to…

-Visiting Santa Clara University tomorrow and UC Santa Cruz on Thursday

-Exploring the vibrant city of San Francisco this weekend

Monday Recap

The first official day of CAP Berkeley is coming to a close and it’s been a big one for campers. This morning, everyone participated in a photo scavenger hunt. They explored Berkeley’s campus and the surrounding area in order to complete as many tasks as possible. Everyone turned in some really fun photos, check them out below. The SAT diagnostic test was scheduled in the afternoon. Students powered through the 4+ hour long test and came out looking exhausted, relieved, and proud all at the same time. The diagnostic test will help our instructors work with students to improve their scores through classes throughout the next two weeks.


Students enjoyed dinner in the dining hall and had the chance to meet their college counselors, Jill and Roseanna, for their first college admissions workshop. After a long day, there was some free time for everyone to relax and have fun – some even discovered an awesome frozen yogurt spot nearby. Stay tuned for more from CAP Berkeley!



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Drum rull please… our scavenger hunt winners were…. Mina, Iman, and Austin! Shout out to all that creativity.

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Lift off!

Dear CAP Berkeley Summerfuel Family and Friends,

I’m happy to say that our campers have arrived safely and they have already begun to embark on what is bound to be a memorable two weeks of learning, personal growth, friendship, and fun! Classes and major activities kick off Monday.  Despite jet lag and fatigue, our campers have been in top form.  You can stay updated on all of our camp happenings on the Summerfuel snapchat and right here on the CAP Berkeley blog. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to email or give us a call at 646.465.2940 between 9am and 9pm PST.

Warm Regards,

Amani, Director


Our beautiful home for the next two weeks


Our first arrivals! So excited to have Jackie, Isis, and Ryan with us.



Maia, Matteo and Susanna hang in the airport while we wait for more Summerfuelers



In route to UC Berkeley from SFO

After orientation, we played some ice breakers to get to know everyone. Jake was our winner for Human Bingo!

After orientation, we played some ice breakers to get to know everyone. Jake was our winner for Human Bingo!

Goodnight Berkeley...

Goodnight Berkeley…

Santa Cruz – Surf’s Up!

On Saturday, students ventured south to visit the beautiful city of Santa Cruz. Some of our most adventurous students woke up at the crack of dawn and headed out early for surfing. For some, surfing was a favorite past time, while others caught waves for the very first time! After the surfing lesson,  students took in the sights and sounds of the boardwalk, purchased giant ice cream cones, rode rides in the amusement park, and took in the sun or played soccer on the beach. Everyone had a great time and returned to campus with sand between their toes!




The College Admissions Timeline: Part 2

Columbia Statue

Are you a junior looking towards senior year with trepidation? Maybe you’re a freshman trying to plan ahead and get a handle on this whole college application process thing? Fear not! We’ve got you covered. As a follow-up to our College Admissions Timeline – Part 1 (Junior Year), we present Part 2 – Senior Year.


Narrow Your College List – By this date, you should have visited most, if not all of the colleges to which you plan to apply. By this time you should have a good balance of Dream, Reach and Safety  (or Likely) colleges. If you have not visited them all, take this time to visit the balance. Make sure that you would be happy to attend all of the schools you are applying to.

Finalize and gather Recommendation If you have not already done so, it is time now to ask those teachers you have chosen if they would be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you. Colleges usually want teachers who have taught you in an academic subject: avoid coaches, choral teacher or journalism teacher. Remember to offer each teacher the opportunity to decline. In most cases teachers will be willing, but some may have already have promised to write a number of recommendations for other students, and may decline your request.

Be sure to give the teachers you have selected an up-to-date copy of your activities resume, and an addressed and stamped envelope. It is very important that you check back with the teachers you have chosen as recommenders to see whether they have all the information they need and whether they’ve completed your recommendation. This should be done about three weeks after your initial request. Remember:  it is your responsibility to ensure that your recommendations arrive at colleges in a timely manner.  

Let your Guidance/College Counselor know whom you have chosen as recommenders, and give him/her any form(s) that they must fill out and the Secondary School Report Form. (Sometimes the two are the same) along with your activities resume.

Activities Resume – You should have a final copy of y our activities resume ready by the time you request recommendations; these should be given to the teachers who consent to write a letter of recommendation for you. You should have used time in August to complete this resume. Have multiple copies ready to give to teachers and your guidance/college counselor. A copy should also be included with each application.

Gather All Applications – Use this time to request applications from all colleges and universities you intent to apply to. Read them carefully and make a summary list of all the materials that will be required.

SAT / ACT – Review your scores on all previous tests you have already taken and determine which ones you may need to re-take. Check all of your applications for a list of required exams. Then check the registration dates for the SAT  and SAT subject tests, and for the ACT.  The SAT and ACT are always given on different dates.  You can register for these tests online.  If you know what colleges you will be applying to at the time you register for the October or November tests, put their codes down so that your scores will be sent to the schools as soon as the tests are scored.

School Policy on Submitting Applications – In the early fall ascertain the policy of your guidance/college counseling office in processing student applications. Do they send the whole package for you? Are you responsible for sending the whole application and your essay, and they assume responsibility for sending out the transcript and recommendations? How do you request a transcript for the college(s) to which you are applying? Record Release Form:  In most cases your parents will be required to sign a “Records Release” form for the school to have legal permission to release your records. Find out about this when you return to school in the fall.

Early Decision/Early Action Applications – If you are planning to apply Early Decision (binding) or Early Action (non-binding) you should have completed all standardized tests by October. As for submission of your full application to the college of your choice, this usually falls between November 1 and December 14. Be sure to check the Early Decision/Early Action deadline and, if possible, submit your application as early as possible. Check carefully any conditions or restrictions that apply to an Early Decision or Early Action application. This may help you figure out which option is best for you.

  • Check interview requirements (if any). Most colleges have alumni who do local interviews and they will contact you once your application has been filed; some colleges, however, expect you to make the contact.
  • Request that your SAT scores be sent to the appropriate college.
  • If you are accepted under the Early Decision Plan, be sure to withdraw your application from all the other colleges to which you have submitted an application. The Early Action Plan allows you to apply to other colleges even if you have been accepted.

Regular Applications If you are not applying for Early Decision or Early Action, or if you have been deferred or accepted under Early Action but still want to apply to more schools:

  • Check all deadlines for all colleges that interest you. Making a chart is the easiest way to keep track of all these dates.
  • Request that your SAT or ACT score results be sent to all the colleges to which you want to apply;
  • Send in Part I of the application if the colleges have a separate Part I. Some require you to send in Part I in order to get the rest of the application.
  • You may take the SAT as late as December, and maybe even January, but don’t wait until the last minute;
  • You will need to give the teachers (recommenders) the forms early, along with addressed and stamped envelopes.


If you are applying for regular admission, it’s a good idea to submit all of your applications before the winter break. Most colleges have a deadline for regular admissions of January 15th, but some have a January 1 deadline — make sure you double check the deadlines for all of the colleges to which you are applying.

Early Decision – If you have applied under this plan, you should be hearing about your admission decision during this month.

Regular Decision Applicants – If you filed any applications in November, now is a good time to contact admissions offices to make sure that they have received your application, and that it is complete. This gives you a chance to check if anything is missing and, if so, arrange for missing material to be sent to the college as soon as possible.



Financial Aid – The Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) can be filled out after January 1st. If you wish to be considered for any federal financial assistance, including loans, grants, and work-study programs, you must complete this form. Different colleges have different deadlines, so be sure to check with the colleges you have applied to for their filing deadline.

Mid-Year Academic Reports – Most colleges require students to submit mid-year academic reports. In most cases you will have received a mid-year report form with your submit. Submit this form to your guidance/college counseling office, together with an addressed and stamped envelope.



Making a Decision – In March and April you will receive decisions from the colleges you have applied to. If you are accepted at a number of institutions to which you have applied, do not make any hasty decisions:

  • Try to visit the schools that you are most interested in; if these colleges offer an overnight stay, try to arrange one if you have not already done so.
  • If you are wait-listed by a college that is your first choice, write an emphatic letter, stating your desire to attend, and get your college counselor to call the college on your behalf. You may also an extra letter of recommendation.
  • If financial aid is a consideration, you may want to wait until you receive your financial aid package. You should understand what each package means and take that into consideration before making a final decision.
  • Before making a final decision, it’s important to discuss with your parents and guidance/college counselor their ideas of the best fit for you.

You have until May 1 to make a final decision. Use this time wisely but don’t miss this deadline. Failure to notify the college you wish to attend by that date may result in a housing assignment you don’t want, or worse no housing on campus at all. If you know well ahead of May 1 where you would like to attend, then send in your admissions deposit to hold your place.

Once your decision is made, send in your reply and admissions deposit to the lucky college that will get you, and send in the cards to all the other colleges that have admitted you to release to those who remain of their wait-list.



Get excited! You’re on to the next step – whether it’s college, a gap year, the job world or something else – and you finally have a chance to relax and enjoy graduation and beyond.