Monday, September 22, 2014

UGA Freshman Names

(update at bottom)

Every year I get the raw data on the first names of UGA's freshman class. Why? Just because. Just in this morning, the 2014 class data.

And the winner is .... Emily.


In the last seven years, Emily has been the top name among UGA freshmen four times, and it's been the top name four out of the last five years, including 2013 and 2014.

At UGA, if your name is Emily, you're never alone.

The only real competition is Sarah, which ranked #1 in 2008, 2009 and 2012. Semi-fun Sarah fact: the name dropped to 8th in 2010. Note that the two dominate names are female. That's no surprise given the make up of UGA. That, or parents are less creative when it comes to girls names.

There are lots of ways to analyze these data. I pull it together because it makes for a nice classroom exercise for my students to learn spreadsheets, something kinda interesting and they're familiar with.  Ask the data questions, I tell them. Find the story.

If I have time, I'll do some more analyses and maybe create a word cloud of all the freshman names in 2014.  That's often popular.

The Top 10
UGA Frosh Names
of 2014 Class

  1. Emily
  2. Sarah
  3. John
  4. William
  5. Rachel
  6. Anna
  7. Katherine
  8. Elizabeth
  9. Caroline
  10. Hannah


Messing with the data a little more.  This freshman class breaks one record -- in the number of different first names. The 2014 freshmen have 1,814 different first names, the highest ever. Now you may say, "But it's a bigger class!" No. The biggest freshman ever at UGA (20111) had 1,733 different names.

What's this mean? I'd like to think it's some indirect, blunt measure of diversity, but to be honest I doubt you can really view the data that way. But -- in 2008, my first year of doing this --- there were only 1,446 different first names. So maybe there's something to it after all. That or people are just getting more creative in how they name their little darlings.

Someone on Twitter responded that these were "white names" (I posted a word cloud and certainly Emily and Sarah, et al., dominate). I'm not sure what's a white versus a non-white name (Biblical names seem to dominate here), and I can only imagine the trouble I'd get in if I wrote about "black names." However, I'm as politically incorrect as it gets, so let's look at one interesting first name case, the ' in a name, as in B'arry, a tendency to naming you often see in the African American community. I see only three in the 2014 list, and I see a whopping 8 back in 2008. I have no idea what that means, if anything, except perhaps a disturbing mid-name punctuation shortage among our newest freshmen.

As an aside, there's not a single Barry in the entire freshman class. Really?

Oh, and that word cloud? See it here or, with luck, see the tweet and visual below.

No comments: