After years of study, you're finally ready to receive your baccalaureate or advanced degree. You've ordered your cap and gown and picked out a special outfit to wear on commencement day. For centuries, graduates like you have been participating in special ceremonies to mark this important milestone and celebrate academic accomplishments with friends and family. Once you figure out how to attach the graduation cap tassel to your motarboard, you will be all set for the big day.

History of Commencement Regalia

Soon you will participate in a time honored ritual dating back to the 12th century when graduates and scholars dressed in long robes and hoods to withstand the cold of unheated universities during lengthy ceremonies. Two hundred years later students started wearing flat top hats with their gowns. The hats resembled motarboards used by brick layers to hold motar. The commencement motarboard came to symbolize superior intelligence. The color of the graduation gown and stole of ribbons represents the student's academic field of study. Colors associated with academic disciplines vary from one school to the next. The tassel was added much later to make a motar board look more distinctive.

Unwrap and Try on Motarboard

When your graduation garb arrives, your decorative tassel is in a plastic bag instead of attached to your mortarboard, the flat cap you'll wear during commencement. You can't exactly walk to your seat holding the tassel on top of your head, but that doesn't mean you're out of luck. Unwrap your mortarboard and set aside any packaging materials. Try on the mortarboard to see if you'll need bobby pins to hold it in place. Plan to take extra bobby pins with you to your graduation ceremony. You may need more than you expect and you'll have a chance to help out a classmate who's not prepared.

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Attach Tassel to Motarboard

Remove your tassel from its protective sleeve. Hold it up and check for any tangled strands. Slide the loop at the top of the tassel onto the button at the center of the top of your mortarboard. Tug gently on the tassel to make sure it's firmly seated under the button. Arrange your tassel so it drapes over the right side of your mortarboard while you're wearing it.

Graduation Tassel Side Placement

Remember to keep your graduation tassel hanging from the right side of your motarboard until close to the end of commencement. If you're an undergraduate, you'll be told when the time is right to move the tassel so it drapes over the left side. Students all over the country practice this tradition. Moving the tassel from the right side to the left side symbolizes the major life changes you are making in going from s student to a college graduate. If you're receiving a graduate degree, your tassel belongs on the left side throughout commencement.

About the Author

Elizabeth Mott has been a writer since 1983. Mott has extensive experience writing advertising copy for everything from kitchen appliances and financial services to education and tourism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Indiana State University.