Category: school names

college names

In the course of her daughter’s college search, guest blogger Susan Chesney discovered a whole new category of name possibilities.

Our daughter Laura is applying to colleges, fourteen of them to be exact. Her brother Peter  (Vassar ’08) took her on a college tour to New York and New England last summer. We didn’t accompany them so that we could save money.  I have an expensive weakness for decent accommodations and healthy food. But our kids can travel on a shoestring.

Peter and Laura visited twenty schools. They texted and called us often, talking incessantly about the various colleges they had visited that day and those they would be touring next.  I remember hearing the name “Sarah Lawrence” in a whole new light, and thinking, that’s pretty! “Bard” sounded quirky, and “Bates” sounded kind of creepy like the Bates Motel in “Psycho.”

When they returned home, the quest for the perfect college wasn’t over.  Laura has a book called “The Best 366 Colleges,” with descriptions of schools across the United States. Laura has been carrying THE BOOK around for two years now. She has talked about this college and that and is open to going to school in Ohio, Pennsylvania and even as near to her family as (gasp!) California! As she talks about different colleges, I am hearing more and more names that have cool potential for baby names, my constant obsession, as you Nameberryites all know!

Because we live in California where most college are universities named after the cities they are located in, many of the far-away liberal arts colleges have names that I had never heard of until now, such as Kenyon, Allegheny, and St. Olaf. But others have names that are familiar like Reed, Bowdoin, and, of course, Harvard.

A few days ago as I was obsessing about names, I realized that THE BOOK is not only an amazing collection of college descriptions, it is also a delightful dictionary of classic, quirky, vintage, and place names that could provide great inspiration for all of us on Nameberry.

College Names


ALLEGHENY (al-uh–GAIN-ee, but my daughter and I think uh-LEG-uhn-ee is prettier.) – Pennsylvania

(University of Michigan Ann) ARBOR – Michigan



BEREA – Kentucky

(University of California) BERKELEY (Go Bears! Sorry, I’m from California!)

(Sweet) BRIARVirginia

BRYN (Mawr) – Pennsylvania

CLARE(mont) – California

(Santa) CLARACalifornia

DREW – New Jersey, could be a boy’s name, too.

EMORYGeorgia–also unisex

MARQUETTE – Wisconsin

(Claremont) MCKENNACalifornia

SARAH (Lawrence) – New York

Read More