Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Every year the admissions office is flooded by eager, enthusiastic, and over-qualified applicants determined to make their way onto Swarthmore’s campus not as mere visitors but accepted students. Every year, the admissions office looks through hundreds of “Why Swarthmore” essays, personal statements, SAT scores, and common applications in search of that special something. This year, however, that something has been revealed by an anonymous source from the admissions office.
“Aptronyms.” Our informant explained, “Aptronyms were the secret criterion for 2012. Past years have included unicyclists, blue people, and people with mushroom allergies but this year it was aptronyms.” An aptronym, or name that is ‘apt’ for its owner, can range from the subtle, as in Vanessa Sara Lee’s case (the notorious naysayer’s nickname is ‘Anessa’), to the blunt, as in potential linguistics major Juan A. Talkalot’s case.
During the interview, our informant observed, “It’s trickier than you might expect. It takes a lot of careful research and consideration to figure out if you have a true aptronym on your hands. Anyone can claim to be a ‘Mary Q. Contrary,’ but unless you’ve got some sort of evidence, like a strongly worded letter of recommendation elucidating your fickle ways and diverse landscaping projects, we’re not just going to accept you into Swarthmore College.”
While the process is highly selective, our informant spoke passionately about the value of a good aptronym. “Everyone knows we can’t judge a book by it’s cover… but that’s usually because the title’s all wrong. What this society needs is a little more outspoken honesty. That’s why I felt so compelled to do this interview.”
When pressed further on the subject, our source acknowledged that it had been a central angst not to have been given an aptronym at birth. “I have every intention of giving my own children aptronyms. Who better than a loving parent to decide the nature of a child’s future and seal their destiny with a well planned christening?”
A psychologist at Worth Health Center, however, voiced concern over encouraging this practice. “To be honest, many children with aptronyms have a difficult time accepting them. You have no idea how many Helena Troys and Rich N. Famouses have dreams of changing their names to something completely different like Sue or Rich… or Ima Dopted.”