Day 7: Saturday August 4th
Today was a great day here at ASA CAP Berkeley. The students began with their usual morning SAT prep class. After the class and a quick lunch at the Café they headed in to the wonderful city of San Francisco to take in the sights and get a break from all the hard work they have been putting in! The first stop was in the Union Square District which was full of designer shops including the Nike Store, Apple, an enormous Macy’s, as well as a Sephora where our student Luke had a great time messing around!
After some much needed retail therapy most of the students ended up at Coldstone Creamery and for some it was their first experience with the one of a kind ice cream shop.
Once everyone had taken in the sights and shops they headed over to the Mission District. The district is known for its art which is openly displayed through numerous graffiti alleys throughout the city!
After eating dinner in one of the many local Mexican taquerias it was time to wrap up the night with an outdoor movie at Dolores Park. There was a free showing of Sixteen Candles as we spread out blankets to lie on and enjoyed some snacks during the film. Overall it was a great day to be an ASA CAP student!
Today the students began with breakfast and moved onto their SAT prep class for the morning where they continued to learn the strategies to help them maximize their scores for the all important test. They then headed to lunch where our student Imani created possibly the most beautiful drink in the world, the Berkeley sunrise.
After lunch the students headed back to the ASA lounge for a group study hall to work on their resumes as well as the drafts of their college essays for their essay writing class right after.
After a quick dinner the students headed back to the lounge for a workshop on putting together an effective application where they went through the steps in filling out the 2012 Common Application accepted at most schools. Once they were done it was time for the fun and games to begin with the first annual CAP Olympics! Ryan and Liberty split the group up into teams and led them through events such as Chubby Bunny marshmallow contest, handless Oreo Eating, ping pong ball and straw balancing, and the final event of the Relay Race!
Everyone had a great time and we even had a medal ceremony at the end celebrating the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medal winning teams! All in a day’s work here at ASA CAP Berkeley 2012!
Today began with a trip to the cafeteria for breakfast to get ready for another full day of workshops and classes. Their first class was Meet the SAT where the students worked on the various aspects of the test such as vocabulary and mathematics. After class it was time for lunch where the nacho bar was a huge hit! The afternoon was spent lounging in the grassy field in front of the Campanile Tower and the beautiful library. Essay writing was next where they worked on rough drafts of their first college entrance essay. Dinner in the café was followed by a workshop on evaluating a college for its pros and cons and learning about websites that could help such as CollegeBoard.com. After another long day it was time to relax and treat themselves with a trip to Yogurtland for the best frozen yogurt that Berkeley has to offer as well as watching the Olympics and cheering on the Women’s Gymnastics and Michael Phelps.
The students were up nice and early to head to the Café for breakfast to make sure they were awake and ready for our first SAT test. Then the ‘fun’ began. The RA’s and staff walked them to the Princeton Review building where they will be spending our most of their mornings for the program taking SAT prep classes. After the anticipation was finally over, they dove right into the test and boy was that an experience! After a long 4 hours of test taking, the students were finally done and it was time to head to lunch. Most of them headed to the Café while some decided to head into Berkeley to test out some of the great restaurants and food options the college town has to offer. When lunch was over they headed back to Putnam to meet up with Ryan and Liberty. A few students had their first college counseling sessions with Jane and Heather while the rest went on a tour of Berkeley to get a lay of the land and learn the boundaries of the camp with the RAs. They saw what the streets of this beautiful college town had to offer from finding the Walgreens for all of our necessities as well as a quick tour of the Berkeley campus and the beautiful buildings it has! Then it was time to head to the first essay writing workshop where we will learn how to make the perfect college essay.
We are all finally in California! After some very long and some delayed flights, we have arrived at San Francisco International Airport for the start of a great two weeks. Our RA’s Liberty and Ryan greeted us at the airport with smiles and directed us to our shuttles to bring us back to Berkeley. After dealing with some typical California traffic, we all had made it back to the beautiful University of California-Berkeley campus in time for dinner at the Crossroads Dining Hall. What a dining hall it was! From the pizza station, grill bar, sandwich line and the make your own salad bar we satisfied our traveling hunger pains that is for sure! Then it was time to head back to Putnam Dormitory where we met in the ASA CAP lounge to start our orientation process. We started with Speed Friending where we got to meet with each student and staff in the program through exciting questions to get the conversations and laughs going! After that our two college counselors Jane and Heather gave us a quick overview of the program and expectations for the next 12 days.
Finally, it was time to unwind in our rooms (except for that pesky fire alarm that went off, al least now we know the drill!), do some unpacking and get a good night’s sleep for our first SAT Diagnostic test bright and early the next morning. Wish us luck!
We celebrated the end of classes by putting on a surprise party for the students. Their everyday writing classroom was transformed with decorations, glow lights, and snacks into a place where they could let loose and enjoy each other’s company one last time. The staff put a lot of thought into “Paper Plate Awards” that highlighted each student’s personality. Some of the more creative: The Deep Sleeper, Shops With a Purpose, and Most likely to paint the C red (you’ll have to ask your students about this one!). Then, everyone was given a group photo taken at Stanford University, and some chose to sign it like a yearbook (week-and-a-half book just doesn’t have the same ring). It was easy to see that, in addition to all the progress we made in the college admissions process, we were able to make great friends.
We began our off campus excursions with the University of San Francisco, perched on a hill about five blocks from the Bay itself. The kids enjoyed learning about this Jesuit university and how its core values of service and scholarship might guide their own college selection process. A tour of the on-campus church gave some perspective on feeling like a small campus in the middle of a large city.
The next day, we went to UC Santa Cruz. Although it’s only 10 minutes from the beach, going to UCSC must be like living in a forest! Students applying here are hoping for the best of both worlds, but either way, they will get a laid-back experience with some of the lowest stress rates among the UC schools.
You know it’s a full day when we get to visit two campuses and get back to Berkeley before dinner! After touring UCSC, the students bused it back up to Palo Alto to get a look at the top-tier Stanford University. Apparently, we saved the best tour guide for last, because Chris was informative while still keeping our tired kids interested and engaged. Many of us were amazed by the breadth of campus (16 Disneyland parks would fit within the grounds) and the amount of thought that has been put into the construction of the university.
After a full week of classes, the students finally got the chance to experience the big city — San Francisco! After the usual morning SAT class, we all headed to the BART (subway) station to take a quick ride into the city. One of the great advantages of living in Berkeley is its close proximity to San Francisco!
Our first stop – the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF MOMA). The big group split into smaller groups to spend the next few hours exploring the many exhibits the museum had to offer. The modern paintings, sculptures and exhibits intrigued the students, with some pieces being more easy to interpret than others. The visit ended with many students buying unique souvenirs at the gift shop.
With the MOMA’s proximity to Union Square, the next obvious stop on our trip was this famous shopping district! Again, the students were split into smaller groups based on shopping interests, after which point they scattered in several directions, excited for the many shopping prospects. Time quickly flew by while scouring the sales in one of the many stores lining the roads around the square, or in the 5-story mall that sits just one block away, and the students barely noticed the time passing or their growing hunger.
Around 7:30, we all headed to nearby Chinatown to eat together. On California Street, which boasts one of the steepest hills in the city, we watched the cable cars go by as we dined on fine Chinese cuisine. After eating, the fatigue of a long day set in, and we all headed back to BART for the journey home. One last stop, however, before making our way back to Unit One – Yogurtland! This frozen yogurt establishment is one of the most popular in Berkeley, with endless flavor and topping options — a perfect snack for the walk back to the dorm, and a sweet ending to a great day!