By: Ashley Slater
The school year has changed, and the Boise State Honors College has changed with it. As well as erecting a new building, the Honors College has implemented a student sorting system to handle its recent boom in popularity. This year, according to Chris Hyer, assistant director of the Honors College, the applications to join the Honors College doubled and the incoming class has that of over 300 students—the biggest incoming honors class in Boise State’s history. Due to the size of this group, Hyer had to come up with creative ways to keep the small-school atmosphere in a big-school environment, which is one of the promises that the Honors College makes on their website when a student applies.
A solution to this problem was thought up by Chris Hyer, Annal Frenz and Emily Jones, all of whom are prominent faculty in the Honors College. This change was inspired by record number of honors students, as the Honors College now contains 940 students. The solution they articulated was one that satisfied minds all over honors: a house sorting system akin to that of J.K. Rowling.
“It started out as a joke. We had to create a smaller society among honors students, and the more we talked about it, the better of an idea it sounded,” Hyer said. “We kept thinking, ‘we have 940 students—how do we provide a personalized experience?’”
Hyer went on to explain after doing some research, they found that the housing system in Harry Potter is modeled after the way some colleges in England house their students. They also found that there are two other honors colleges that sort their students into Hogwarts type housing.
“Now, each house is a smaller community of around 200 that makes honors more personalized,” Hyer said. Each house also offers student leadership opportunities, mentor opportunities and multiple points of contact so students never feel lost.
Rather than having only four houses to split the students into, Boise State Honors College offers up five houses for students to be apart of. The houses are as follows: Gyrfalcon, Harrier, Kestrel, Osprey and Peregrine. Each house is color-coded, and has certain defining traits set by the house heads. However, according to Hyer, these traits are subject to change as the house heads shift and students define and redefine their houses.
Sorting is completely random according to Hyer. First-year English major Susannah Oxley, an honors college student who was sorted into Osprey, said she liked the random system.
“Because the houses aren’t defined by traits, it’s not exactly like Harry Potter, which is cool because it means the house heads had to be creative with the system,” Oxley said. “Because there is diversity in each house, they won’t be too similar or different from each other.”
Rather than feeling as though she would be limited in the amount of people she will meet, Oxley explained that it will push her out of her comfort zone and make her go more out of her way to meet people she might not otherwise come in contact with. She added, “It’s awesome. It’s like Greek life with the volunteering and leadership, but for nerdy people.”