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Can the Right Baby Name Get You into Harvard?

Dear Name Lady,

What names are most likely to get my kids into a top college? I know this is a bit of a ridiculous question, but could a first name actually make a difference? If so, what names would be good?

- Probably Not Harvard-Bound Anyway

If you're looking for a sure-thing shortcut to the Ivy League, no dice. Your kid will be a lot better off studying calculus (or polishing his jump shot) than perfecting the name on his application. But if the question is, "What kind of name will make my kid sound like he ought to go to Harvard?" then I can help you.

The answer is the names that Harvard grads are giving their babies right now.

Think about it: What kids are more likely to end up with fancy degrees? Their parents are well-educated, presumably bright, and likely well-off. They got into top schools themselves and they know what it takes. Parents like those are positioned to help their young'uns prepare for the academic big time. (Donating money to the alma mater doesn't hurt, either.)

The reigning name choices of Ivy League alums are understated antiques. Henry, Alexander and Theodore are big for boys; Cecilia, Sophie and Eleanor for girls. When modern-styled surnames do pop up they often have a literary-artistic bent, like Beckett and Harper.

So if you name your kids Henry and Cecilia, they should fit right in on a fancy campus 18 years from now. Even if they don't end up straight-A types, their names will sound it. But if you already have twins named Zenith and Princessa, don't sweat it. In a sea of understated names, they'll at least be sure to catch the admissions officer's eye.

Comments

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August 25, 2009 5:18 PM
By Jon Ann (not verified)

I had an unusual name (boy's name-after my dad) and a really unusual maiden name as well. I gave both my children unusual names which my daughter hated at first but now at 21, she loves. I think it makes them independent; they always have a conversation opener; and who wants to be just like everyone else anyway?

June 30, 2011 1:09 AM
By how pregnant (not verified)

Thanks name lady. I have to think of changing my kids names accordingly.

March 27, 2012 6:10 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Honestly... something that doesn't sound white or Asian. I am strongly considering giving my kids Abenaki names not to so much to honor our heritage but because it may give them a step up in life.

April 9, 2014 7:28 AM
By Acne (not verified)

The answer is the names that Harvard grads are giving their babies right now.

June 11, 2014 4:12 AM
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