What it’s like having a common name among 51,000+ students

Photo Courtesy of John Schnobrich

The 1990s gave our society the hit movie “Titanic,” Furbies and, according to Social Security card application data, approximately 303,086 Jessicas. Alongside all the Jessicas, society gained 462,314 new Michaels. Within the next decade, Jacob would rise to 273,793 and Emily would climb to 223,658. From 2010 to 2017, Emma took the lead at 158,573.

Common names have many benefits and drawbacks. You may perk up in public places unnecessarily every time you hear your name, but at least you can always find your keychain at beachside stores. You may meet so many other people with your name that it feels no longer yours, forcing you to resort to a middle name or, in student Rachel Anderson’s case, your last name.

“Once I got in high school, I met a few more [Rachels], including one of my best friends. Our friend group used to differentiate by calling us by our last names,” Anderson said.

Anderson thinks her name is so popular with people her age because of mainstream television during the time. Popular TV during the 90s included “Friends,” a global smash hit about six friends living in New York. On the show “Friends,” Jennifer Aniston plays a character named Rachel Green.

Rachel Green was such a big hit with fans, her signature hairstyle was dubbed “The Rachel” and women everywhere rushed to mimic her golden, face-framing layers.

Anderson thinks the popularity of “Friends” is the main reason for her name.

“I was born in 1998 and my parents named me (somewhat subconsciously) after the character Rachel Green on the TV show Friends, of which they were huge fans. I think a lot of babies that year and similar years were named Rachel, as well as other characters names, for that reason,” Anderson said.

Often, having a common first and last name gets frustrating in situations requiring the use of name identification. When attempting to open a tab, Emma Smith often finds she is not the only Smith at the bar that night.

“When I use the last name Smith for a tab, sometimes I also have to give them my first name as well because there’s already another open Smith tab,” Smith said.

Smith said it sometimes gets so bad that she has to go by not just her first and last but also her middle name.

Emma Smith is registered as a student under the campus ID of esmith155. That means she has shared the campus with 154 other E. Smiths.

Smith is the No. 1 surname in the U.S. with a prevalence of 2,501,922. Coming in second is Johnson with a popularity of 2,014,470. A quick search of the campus directory for “A Johnson” displays A. Johnsons up to number 405.

Georgia State attempts to navigate through identical names by assigning each student their own CampusID, the username of each student’s PantherMail. The process begins with admissions and from there students are assigned a number by the Instructional Innovation & Technology office.

A Georgia State IT specialist, who asked to remain nameless due to policy, said that there was only ever an issue during Georgia State’s Perimeter consolidation.

“When we did the first initial merger, there was a problem where a student applied to Georgia State and Georgia Perimeter. They had the same campusID. That caused some problems and was addressed immediately,” the anonymous IT specialist said.

And name mix ups aren’t only common for students. A quick google search of “GSU” displays both Georgia State and Georgia Southern sharing the same acronym. This has led to the infamous rivalry or the battle for the “real GSU” and the #StatenotSouthern hashtag.

Georgia State joined Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt Conference in the 2013-14 academic year, leading to the rebranding of Georgia Southern to “GS” in 2014. According to the Conference reference guide, this change aids consistency in the media and with the announcers during the game.

On Georgia Southern’s Football Game Notes, they mention the change of name:

“We are Georgia Southern
With no disrespect to our colleagues in Atlanta,
we are Georgia Southern, not Georgia State. We
don’t ask for much; heck we think we’re pretty
easy to deal with. All we really ask is for media
covering the Eagles to get our name right. You
can call us Georgia Southern, GS or the Eagles,
just please don’t call us Georgia State!
– Sincerely, Eagle Nation”

The Georgia State athletics department often forwards a screenshot of said quote to the tweets they recieve boasting Georgia Southern as the real GSU.

Our names, alongside our first breath of life, are the first gifts given to us. We continue to grow throughout our lives under their influence. While you are the most special shining star, to the school you may just be Emma No. 155, or to the internet just another GSU.