Every spring, once the initial application frenzy has eased, we notify applicants whose files are incomplete.  A good number of them will respond that they are very confident they submitted all needed materials.  In those cases, our minds jump to the leading suspect lurking behind this situation.  And what is this Number One Suspect?  Having more than one name appear on the different credentials that, together, constitute the application file.  You may be wondering how this could happen, and here are some examples of the causes of this wrinkle:

You attended college, got married and changed your surname, and you’re now applying under your married name, while your university still issued transcripts under your maiden name.
Your university used a Romanization different from your preferred spelling of your non-Roman-alphabet language.
ETS incorrectly assumed that your first name is your last name (Donovan George or George Donovan).
Your transcript was issued with your Chinese (or other) name, but you applied using your preferred English name (Wen Jiabao might prefer Jake Wen).
Your full name includes both your parents’ last names, but you generally use only one of them, or it simply isn’t clear that the second-to-last name is the one under which to file your materials (Gabriel Garcia Marquez should be filed under G, not M).
You’ve always used your middle name as your first name, though your original given name appears on official documents.

But the real cause of the problem is that some applicants who experience the above situations DON’T TELL US ABOUT IT!  (I’m yelling with frustration now, in case you wondered how to interpret the upper-case.)

Let’s go, people.  If you know that more than one name or spelling of your name will appear on your credentials, tell us about it.  And I don’t mean a sentence at the very end of your personal statement.  No.  I mean:  Call us, email us, pester us, and otherwise ensure that we are aware of the problem.  Once we know, we will look through our files under both D (Donovan) and G (George) and bring all your materials together.  Never tell us (or slip the information deep in your application), and the Ds and Gs will never be united.

Now that I have completed my rant, I look forward to hearing (in a timely way) from everyone who will have multiple names on application credentials.  Problem solved.

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