A chat with the CEO of University Compass—Nigeria's leading university search engine

Unlike many other graduates who leave their undergraduate projects on the proverbial academic shelf, Seunla Osinowo decided to build a business out of his.

A chat with the CEO of University Compass—Nigeria's leading university search engine

University Compass started as a final year project (web-based) of Seunla Osinowo—a 2016 Computer Science graduate of Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria.

Officially launched on May 1, 2017, the site has already recorded visits from about half a million people, a growth rate of 1,187.01%.

What is University Compass and how does it work?

It is a preference-based search engine tool for finding a suitable University.

Basically, users—typically, secondary school leavers—do the following:

  • visit the site, and
  • choose from a list of criteria like location, budget for tuition, type of school (Federal, State or Private), and even religious affiliation. All the while, on a sliding scale they are rating how important such criteria is to them from "irrelevant" to "very" important. And then they hit "Find Universities".    

On the right side of the screen, it drops down a list of Universities ranked top to bottom by how close to the criteria the result is.

The landing page of University Compass

So, why did you build university compass and not something else?

Two reasons actually:

  1. I've seen people close to me struggle academically in the University because they are studying a course they don't really like, or they thought they'd like it but turned out that wasn't the case.
  2. Some of these people have had to switch schools at one point because there was a better option that meets their needs or "criteria" that they were totally unaware of initially while filling the JAMB course and university selection form.

There are a ton of content sites on colleges but I feel that's no longer enough, I think helping people make better decisions is the next step and so I decided to build it.

Seunla Osinowo, founder of University Compass

Has University Compass underwhelmed you or exceeded your expectations of it?

To be honest, it has exceeded my expectations.

I had intended to just test it out and have people point out flaws in things like the solution or algorithm.

Surprisingly, nobody has made any complaints, they all say it is good. I asked people who have used it what they felt, and they said it is great and this is obvious from the ratings.

However, people have expressed dissatisfaction with the user interface but not necessarily with the functionality.

What is in the future of University Compass?

A personalised newsfeed based on a user's activities.

I think we've laid a pretty good  foundation, and now we're seeing that this tool we've built could branch out in so many ways. We've been doing a lot of research on building a better/more robust search tool for college prospect and we are still exploring the best implementation strategy

But what we intend to come in next is the recommendation tool. Right now we've helped you narrow down schools you might be interested in. That's cool however the way the human mind works. When you're interested in something, you'd naturally want to be seeing content about that thing, so we believe creating a form of newsfeed on schools users are interested is the way to go

Fictitious image of a lady who is excited about getting admission into the University

Personally, I think what Seunla and his team have done with University Compass is pretty impressive and solves an actual problem.

In one of our chats, he shared with me the success story of a lady with a (relatively) low JAMB score getting admission by using the "low JAMB score" feature on the  University Compass site to find a school.

Low JAMB score feature which can be found on every college page

In conclusion, I think there is still a lot more to unpack from this story. But if want, you can reach out to Seunla on Twitter or visit the University Compass site.

Bonus: On the August 12, Seunla migrated the site from a .ng to a .com to accommodate Universities from other climes.

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