College ‘Sorting Hat’ created to improve selection process

The program asks students questions about a range of factors, including accommodation preferences

An online ‘Sorting Hat’ system, inspired by Harry Potter, is currently being developed by a Computer Science student in their final year to help prospective students decide which college is best suited to their personality.

harry potter sorting hat

Differing from its namesake, the program asks students to answer questions relating to their degree, accommodation preferences and the college events that appeal to them.

The developers, while keen to stress that the project is still very much at the prototype stage, are hoping it will go on to provide a single point of reference from which prospective students can make an informed choice.

Students have described the process of choosing a college as ‘confusing’ and ‘daunting,’ as well as saying that there are too many places to look with insufficient information.

One English student was highly complimentary of the idea and told Nouse: “I wish we’d had a system like this. Choosing your college is vital to your university experience. Picking the college I did reduced my social opportunities, and I don’t feel I have as many friends as I could have had.”

However, the system has not won the favour of all students. One second-year Chemistry student said: “All it will do is allow students to choose between over-priced accommodation and over-priced accommodation – not to mention the possibility of reinforcing college stereotypes which could deter some from choosing York altogether.”

Aniket Datta, one of the project’s developers, told Nouse: “Currently, we are not sure if it captures the most important features to students. To understand that better, we need feedback from current students.”
Datta was keen to thank the people who had already helped with the project. He said: “Thank you to all students and staff who have contributed to the Sorting Hat by sharing their experiences. Without their support, the prototype would not exist.”

A spokesperson for the University of York told Nouse: “There are no plans for its adoption by the University. It is an academic project [designed] to explore the potential to help students take a broader range of factors into account in making choices about colleges. It is possible the system may remain live on completion of the student’s dissertation though it will not remain on the University servers. We are working on a range improvements to the University’s booking accommodation process.”

One comment

  1. Sigh.

    The University hasn’t “launched” anything.

    A student is doing their final year project investigating the potential for the system. They are working on an early stage conceptual prototype. Nothing has been launched. It’s an interesting piece of research and design work, nothing more, nothing less. Aniket is following a design process involving talking to current students about what they think of the project. That is not the same as adopting the project as part of the University’s policy to support incoming students.

    Perhaps one day it will develop into a system adopted by the University to help student’s choose or learn about the different colleges. But that’s a long way in the future, if ever.

    Poor reporting and “creative” (or more accurately misleading) headlines from Nouse again.

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