Last month, the Guardian compared the popularity of different names across various groups in Britain—journalists against convicts against corporate directors, for instance ("Ian" fits all three). Among the findings was a Venn diagram comparing the names of current Oxford students to the most popular baby names of 1994, around when today's undergraduate cohort was born.
Fun, but not totally helpful on this side of the Atlantic, unless you're already trying to choose between naming your daughter "Imogen" (hello, Oxford!) or "Gemma" (sorry). So we rounded up the equivalent data for college-aged Americans: the top 25 boys' and girls' names for 1994, compared to the top 25 names for male and female Yale undergraduates.
What do we learn from the charts? On the boys' side, if you thought you were giving your kid a classy-sounding name by going for "Tyler" or "Brandon," Yale begs to differ. Those were the fifth- and sixth-most popular boys names of 1994, but they didn't crack Yale's top 25. Meanwhile, dull old standbys like Charles (No. 43 overall in '94) and Peter (No. 87) were among Yale's most popular. (The top four names among the general public—Michael, Christopher, Matthew, and Joshua—were also among the top names at Yale.)
There was even less overlap for girls' names. The No. 1 name of 1994, Jessica, was on the Yale list too. But seven of the top 12 girls' names of 1994—Ashley (No. 2), Samantha (No. 4), Taylor (No. 6), Brittany (No. 7), Amanda (No. 8), Nicole (No. 11), and Kayla (No. 12)—failed to appear on the Yale list. Instead, Yale welcomed students named Margaret, the 106th most popular name of the year, along with No. 94 Caroline, No. 84 Catherine, No. 75 Emma, and No. 73 Julia.
And notably, parents whose daughters were destined for Yale went way, way down the list—past all the dead-enders like "Jasmine" or "Morgan" or "Amber"—to choose the 185th most popular name of 1994, Sophia. Jumping ahead a generation: As of 2011, the most recent year for which the Social Security Administration has released name rankings, Sophia had risen to become the No. 1 name for baby girls. The Yale parents already knew.