Kindergarteners. College freshman. Those two classes of entering students are at very different phases of their lives, yet their educational "generations" are only 13 years apart. In those 13 years, how much change has occurred in name trends? To get a sense of cultural time passing, let's take a look at the names of this fall's two matriculating classes: the college students, born circa 1995, and the kindergarteners, vintage 2008.
• Entering college students are most likely to be named Jessica, Ashley, Michael and Matthew. For the kindergarten students, fast-forward to Jacob and Emma.
• Among the college students, Robert is still a top-25 name, 15 times as common as Landon. Kindergarteners, though, are more likely to be named Landon than Robert.
• Brittany is a top-10 name in the college class. Just 13 years later, the Brittany rate had plummeted by 95% -- as did the rates of Brittney, Brandy and Brandi.
• Ava is a top-five girl's name in kindergarten. In college it ranks #734, lower than Gladys.
• Some popular college names that are virtually unhead of among kindergarten students:
• Some popular kindergarten names that are virtually unheard of among college students:
• The biggest generational eye-opener: the "Age of Aidens" hasn't reached college yet. The total number of college freshmen named Aiden or Jayden is 379. The number of kindergarteners: 32,673. Use your imagination for Ayden, Kayden and beyond to get a sense of how different the two classes sound.
It isn't much of a stretch to say that the names of the kindergarteners and college students sound a full generation apart. That's a big leap for 13 years. If you look at names from a century earlier, comparing 1895 vs. 1908, the changes are much less dramatic. But fashion moves fast today, and name lifespans are shrinking. By the time this kindergarten class graduates, we'll be talking about a new set of popular names that we can't yet imagine.