What’s In A Name: Issues Related To Your Name While Applying To Universities
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.“
Perhaps one of the most quoted dialogues ever, is picked from Shakespeare’s genre defining love story “Romeo and Juliet”. But little did the bard know how important one’s name was when it came to GRE. Obviously he never tried applying to universities abroad.
As Asians, especially from the Indian sub continent, we are very likely to have rare and unique names that symbolize our rich heritage.
Mentioning our names correctly in our online application forms for graduate studies is extremely essential to successfully complete your forms in time. While you fill your applications, you will find, that writing your name is the very first step to complete. Many students can find some trouble here, especially if your name has initials or you have middle names. In most of the online application forms you will find that you are asked to enter your First Name, Last Name and your Title if any. This sounds simple enough for domestic applicants (US Residents) but could be your first potential hurdle in completing your applications correctly.
In the US, families have a defined way to name their children. Example: William(First Name) Jones (Family Name) or Bella(First Name) Margaret (Middle Name) Thomas (Family Name) and Daniel (first name) Nicholas (Family Name) Jr. (Title). This is pretty much the norm, without much exceptions. The situation in India and some other parts of the world is a little more complex. In India, the norms followed while naming the children depends on the region the family is from. So, if you are from parts of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh your name could be something like Kunwar Ajay Singh Rajput. Now, how does one figure out which part of this is the first name, last name and title? Or we have many here with names like P.Manish Annadurai. If I were Manish I’d be quite puzzled about how to mention the ‘P’ in his name in the application. The luckier ones among us have names like Swati Pandey with a clear first name and last name.
In the Indian scenario it is very likely that your name has multiple versions in multiple places.
- The Passport may show a blank in your last name, or it can show your initial in expanded form in place of your last name.
- While your certificates, transcripts and degree show your name is another form.
- Example Kunwar Ajay Singh Rajput, may use Kunwar Ajay as first name and Singh Rajput as last name for his passport, but to make life easier, he may have used only Ajay Singh while enrolling to his school and colleges. So he will essentially have two names – one as mentioned in his Passport and another as shown in his college and school documents (10th/12th mark sheets or transcripts and degree).
You may now wonder what name should we use when we have different versions of our names in various documents?
The first and most important thing to do is, check your documents to see if your name is mentioned accurately everywhere. The golden rule is to mention your name as given in the passport. If the name in your passport alone is different or incorrect, you need to get your passport re-issued. It is a very simple procedure that can be completed in 15 days or less (using tatkal services). If you have multiple names in multiple documents, we need to complete two steps before we apply:-
- Write to the university.
- Get a Name Affidavit made with the help of any notary public that mentions all the possible versions of your name and ascertains that it is the same person.
It is important to write to the university because each university has its own norms in resolving this issue, such as:
- University can ask you to leave your ‘last name’ field blank.
- University can ask you to put a symbol (- or .)
- University can ask to put FNU- first name unknown as your first name.
If you are advised in this way, then you have nothing to worry! You know exactly how to continue. You can also get the name affidavit to be on the safe side. A name affidavit like any other affidavit is a notarised document and looks like this: –
With proper guidance you can understand when your name can cause a problem for your application forms and when not. You may also have the advantage of understanding well in time that this is a situation to plan for. We may overlook this small detail, but it can have some serious repercussions not only when you apply to universities, but also when you book your exam dates, apply for scholarships and even after you reach the university!
Did you know that if you don’t have a last name, it could be difficult to apply for a license or get security numbers issued in the US?
It can also have direct implications on your application procedure, such as:
- University may not be able to attach your reported scores to your application
- University may not mark your file completed within the prescribed deadline
- University may delay the review of your application
- Your application may not be considered for reviewing at all
If you have anymore admission related queries, please leave your doubts in the comments below.
A stitch in time, saves nine! So before you get down to filling your online application forms, do ensure that you have the smaller details in place, starting with your name! Happy learning with GREedge.