Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Frosh First Names

Every academic year I ask UGA for the first names of the latest freshman class. There's a lot you can do with these data, but let's keep it simple and ask what's the most popular first name, and has that changed over time?

First, the Top 10 of Fall 2015:

1. (tie) Emily and John
3. Hannah
4. William
5. (tie) Anna and Caroline
7. Sarah
8. Mary
9. Madison
10. Matthew

Keep in mind these ranks represent small actual numbers. Of the 5,035 first names provided to me, 61 students are named either Emily or John. Third place, Hannah, has 56 students sharing that name. Here are a few interesting factoids:

  • I've asked for these data since 2008 and never has a male name done better than second place (also John, back in 2011).
  • Since 2008, either Sarah or Emily have held first place. 
  • Sarah fell this year, but it also fell in 2010. We're talking small numbers here, so there's some random walk involved in the data.
  • Madison has never made the Top 10. In 2014 it was in 15th place. In 2008, it was tied for ... wait for it ... 235th place? Wow.
Below is a quick-and-dirty image that shows the Top 10 across years.

I highlighted Emily, Sarah, and John to show how much they've dominated over the years. When I have more time, I can crank the data some more. For example, it's fun to compare what proportion of unique names (one person only with it) we see over time. My hypothesis has always been that as UGA improves in diversity, we should see more one-name-only students, but so far the data has not supported that hypothesis. Damn those data.

Finally, I leave you with a word cloud of the 2015 freshman names because all bright visual people hate word clouds, and I'm not a visual guy -- so there.


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