Like many English majors, Amanda Filchock ’15 grew up loving books, but was unsure how to channel her passion into a career. She was intrigued by Hofstra’s Publishing Studies Program and after graduating in 2015 was hired by The College Board, the not-for-profit organization that promotes college readiness and administers exams such as the SATs, PSATs and Advanced Placement tests. Amanda is the assistant director of SAT Publications, which among other things makes her responsible for overseeing the content for the operational materials for the SAT exams.
Amanda discussed her Hofstra experience with News@Hofstra and shared a little insider information about what it is like to work for The College Board.
News@Hofstra: Why did you decide to major in English? Did you have any preconceived plans about what you would do with your degree?
Amanda Filchock: I had always loved reading, but didn’t necessarily want to be a writer. I just wanted to spend most of my time with books and learning about authors. I briefly considered going into teaching but wanted to discover more about the process behind how books are made. I was attracted to Hofstra’s Publishing Studies Program and didn’t see many other colleges or universities that offered anything like that. I ended up adding a marketing minor to my studies to better wrap my mind around business, as well as a history minor because I found the courses so interesting.
N@H: What did you most enjoy about your studies? Did you have a favorite course or area of literature?
AF: I tried to take a good variety of literature classes. Two that stand out are Jane Austen and American Fiction 1900-1950. The publishing course, History of the Book, really changed the way I think about books, and I still talk about that class today! Book Design was also very eye opening. It was fun to be in a computer lab for an English class and work hands-on in publishing software. I use InDesign and InCopy in my current job, so getting to learn this software in the classroom definitely gave me an advantage.
N@H: What are your responsibilities at The College Board/SAT?
AF: I manage the 250+ operational print and digital publications for the weekend SAT administration. The biggest of these include the manuals that SAT proctors read aloud to students on test day. I also work on the SAT answer sheets, admission tickets, posters, flyers, emails, and practice tests. I write content, and work with our editors, designers, and printers to produce materials for students, parents, and educators. I’m also part of the core team developing materials for the upcoming digital SAT. These pieces are updated each school year, and we work a full year ahead. So right now we’re kicking off publications for 2018-19.
N@H: In what ways do your English major and your studies at Hofstra help you with your position at The College Board?
AF: A typical day on the job could include reading a 108-page publication, generating content, and then sending it on to design. Reading for several classes with tight deadlines multiple times within one semester certainly prepared me for this. Being able to comprehend and write content is something that all companies are looking for. I genuinely believe that English majors are in high demand upon graduation.
Of course working on team projects in classes definitely relates to the work I do now. I have my job to do, and my colleagues depend on me to do it well. Just like in class, we’re all working towards the same goal, and it feels incredible when we hit it.
N@H: What can you tell students about working in educational publishing?
AF: Anyone who is passionate about encouraging and inspiring students will enjoy working in educational publishing. It is always so meaningful when I get to visit schools and hear from students who are excited about college and their career. To be a part of their educational development is a huge honor.
N@H: What do you think people would find most interesting or surprising about the work you do at The College Board?
AF: We’re always thinking of new ways to provide access to opportunity. Our goal is to make it easier for students to get the resources they need to get into college. We offer many benefits for students like free score sends and free practice tests. We also waive college application and SAT fees for eligible students. When a student decides to apply to college who otherwise might not have because of the assumed costs and efforts involved, it’s a win for us.
N@H: As someone on the inside, do you have any advice for teens about to take the SAT? What is the most helpful thing or things they should study?
AF: Breathe and don’t overthink it! Students should take advantage of technology. We’ve partnered with Khan Academy to provide students with online personalized recommendations for practice, video lessons, and study tips. There’s the Daily Practice app with a new question to answer every day, and students can follow us on Twitter for more questions and tips. Or get a group of friends together and meet up once a week to study together. Having and being part of a support system can be extremely valuable.
Practice tests are essential. All of the practice College Board has made available pulls from former tests, so students will know what kind of questions they can expect. We have eight, free, full length practice tests online [sat.org/practice].
N@H: If you had to take the SAT yourself today, do you think you would ace it?
AF: I like to think I would! In high school I remember going to a small tutoring group on Saturday mornings to prepare for my SAT. Given the chance, I would definitely do that again because it forced me to be present and focus on the study material. Sometimes the hardest part of it all is just figuring out how to study and get motivated.
N@H: Do you have any other career aspirations for yourself?
AF: I do love working in education, and definitely see myself staying in the industry. This is also an exciting time for publishing as more resources are devoted to digital publishing. My plan is to learn as much as I can and be ready to adapt and bend with new technologies.
N@H: What do you miss most about being a Hofstra student?
AF: Meeting up with friends in between classes at Bits N’ Bytes over burgers and fries was the best recharge. I also miss walking over the Unispan! Coming out and seeing Hofstra Hall was always a pretty sight.