Which Way Do Graduation Tassels Go?

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Graduate moving her tassel

When placing your cap on for graduation, you may wonder, "Which way do graduation tassels go?" Keep reading to find the answer to this question and some other interesting information about your tassel.

Wearing Graduation Tassels on the Correct Sides

Do graduation tassels go left or right? Graduation tassels go on the right side of your cap before you graduate. In some schools, you move the tassel over to the left after you shake the hand of the person who grants your diploma. In other schools, you will have to wait until the principal announces that your class has officially graduated and asks everyone to move it at one time.

The Symbolism of the Tassel

The graduation tassel is a symbol of success. Some believe the reason why you place the tassel on the right is because you have earned the right to graduate. Moving the tassel to the left after graduating is symbolic of crossing over from high school (or college) to another stage in your life.

In the future, if you receive a master's degree or doctorate, you will place your tassel on the left of your mortarboard cap. You do not flip the tassel to the right; it remains on the left before, during, and after graduating. This is because typically, candidates who are receiving their terminal degrees (ie master's or doctorates) receive a hood that represents their academic discipline. The tassel takes the place of the hooding ceremony at the high school and bachelor's degree levels.

Be Camera Ready

While tradition dictates that the tassel be worn on the right and moved to the left after you receive your diploma (or at the conclusion of the ceremony), note that sometimes schools will direct you to place the tassel on the left. Generally, this is because they have the photographer set up to take pictures from the right, and they want your face fully visible for some great shots. After all, no one wants a graduation picture featuring their tassel in the middle of their face.

Save Your Tassel as a Sign of Achievement

Once graduation is over, don't just throw your tassel in a box and forget about it. Be proud of your achievement and display it as a reminder of how far you've come. Some people have it put into a frame with a picture from graduation. Others will drape it around their rear view mirror in their car. Wherever you choose to place your tassel, make sure to look at it often, as it will remind you of your success and give you hope for the future.

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Which Way Do Graduation Tassels Go?