Can the Right Baby Name Get You into Harvard?

Filed under: Baby Names

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.

What names do you think set kids up for success? Share your experiences! And if you have a question to Ask the Name Lady, drop her a line.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.