Friday, November 22, 2013

UGA Freshman Names

I rarely get students interested in data stories. Here's one I've always liked: top freshman first names at UGA. I just got these for the new freshman class. A few high points:
  • Either Sarah or Emily have been the #1 name since 2008 (my earliest data). Emily is #1 in 2013, Sarah #2.
  • To give context, in 2013 there are 76 freshman named Emily, 75 named Sarah. So about 3 percent of all freshman students have one of those two names.
  • Male names are less consistent. William was more popular, then Michael, now it's John (#3 in 2013).
  • No surprise as we have more female than male students, of the Top 5 names every year, three are female.
  • In 2013, Anna and Hannah make a first-ever appearance in the Top 10 (#4 and #5, respectively).
  • My daughter Erin is in the 2013 freshman class. She shares that name with 19 other kids.
  • There are 524 students in the 2013 freshman class who are the only ones with their first name.

There are a lot of ways to play with these data. One is to compare them to Social Security birthname data to see if UGA is unique or follows the trend in popularity of first names. Another is to, of course, analyze whether we have a greater number of unique names, proportionally, in each successive freshman class. That would suggest a diversity, of sorts. You'd of course then go out and find people with these names. I'd interview an Emily, for example, and ask her how often she runs into other students with the same name. How often does a prof say "Emily?" and three kids raise their hands? You get the idea. Journalism 101.

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