High school students who want to improve their SAT verbal skills or catch a glimpse of entrepreneurial spirit should take note of Lauren Xie, a 2009 Montgomery High grad and former California Junior Miss.

Now a junior at Harvard, Xie is a manager of a new division at Harvard Student Agencies, the world’s largest student-run corporation. And the student workers there have just released a new app, SAT Vocab Flashcards, for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

The 99-cent app is billed as a way to strengthen understanding of the 1,000 most commonly seen vocabulary words on the SAT.

Xie, who before Harvard was twice a piano soloist in Sonoma County with the American Philharmonic Orchestra, is now majoring in Environmental Science and Public Policy. She is manager of the corporation’s HSA Tutoring division, which just released the SAT app.

“We are very excited for this app because it is completely written and developed by Harvard undergraduates and because of the stunning design and study features it has,” Xie said.

Harvard Student Agencies employs more than 500 Harvard students and has 11 different business operations. In her position, Xie manages the budget, business operation, marketing, and overall strategic direction of her division, all under the guidance of a senior management team.

“I had the opportunity to grow an agency that was just an SAT course when I started into an entire test prep agency with new partnerships, test prep packages, and private tutoring for a new range of subjects,” she said.

Here she talks a little more about the student corporation, the app and getting the most out of college.


How did you happen to start working for HSA Tutoring and why has it been a good fit for you?

I learned about HSA through a mutual friend and began working for HSA Tutoring because of the opportunity it presented to gain hands-on business experience as a student.  I had always been interested in education, and though test prep itself has very different goals, the opportunity to improve student performance on standardized exams appealed to me.  Moreover, this was the first year of HSA Tutoring, so I knew I would be growing something from the ground up.  I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship and management, so this agency was a great fit for me.

You mentioned that you would prefer to work after college in a business that deals with education or the environment. What attracts you to those two areas?

I am attracted to education and the environment because I think that they are two of the most important areas for investment for our future.  My own educational experiences have significantly shaped where I am today, and I want to give back to other students who are still developing their own educational goals.  My interest in the environment stems from its pandemic nature across cultures and borders and its underlying importance for sustaining life as we know it today.

Why should high school students care about this new app? How can it help them?

High school students should use this app if they are studying for the SAT.  Increasing your knowledge of SAT vocabulary is essential for scoring well on the SAT, because the Critical Reading and Writing sections of the test comprise 1600 of the total possible 2400 points. Contrasted with conventional flash cards, this app is much easier and more convenient to use and allows you to customize specific words in folders.  For example, if a word is particularly difficult and you know that you will want to review it again, you can create a folder called “for review” and add it to that folder.  Another advantage that this app has over traditional SAT vocabulary flash cards is that it has an audio pronunciation that you can play to assist you in memorizing the word.  Lastly, it is only 99 cents (for a limited time), so it is more cost-effective than purchasing flash cards!

The app is now available for iPhones and iPod Touch. Are there plans to put out an app for the phones and devices of other companies?

Definitely. We have plans to expand to Android phones as well.

What advice would you give young adults on getting the most out of college?

Definitely get involved in activities and organizations on campus. The most valuable insights you gain from college come from your experiences and interactions with other students, not from the classroom.  Take advantage of opportunities that spark your interest and join lots of groups, but only stay with activities that you are genuinely invested in or social groups that you truly connect with.  Make sure that you are consistently learning new things outside the classroom; if you are ever bored, you are wasting the valuable time you have before you have “real” responsibilities!