Graduation honors can be represented in a variety of ways. There are always sashes and stoles, but one of the most popular accessories is the honor cord. Below, we’ve shared some practical information about honor cords, and how ambitious students can earn one before graduation day.
Typically, these rope-like strands are around 60 inches long. Graduates wear them around their necks so that they hang freely. The strands usually come in intertwined pairs (with a knot holding them together). Each strand may have a distinct color depending on the student’s academic degree and honors. Students wear the cord during the entire graduation ceremony.
Every academic institution can create unique guidelines for their honor cords including what the colors represent. However, the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) has drafted a standardized system for honor cord colors so that universities have a roadmap for their own graduation traditions. For example, gold honor cords are typically affiliated with academic achievement, such as a high GPA or National Honor Society membership.
First, we recommend listing your personal strengths within the university environment so that you can see where honors are attainable. For example, if you have incredible grades across the board, you may be able to achieve Latin honors, such as Magna Cum Laude or Summa Cum Laude. Traditionally, these highly prestigious honors are bestowed upon students who earn a 3.75 GPA or higher.
If you have more specialized strengths in a niche field, such as business administration or medicine, you may be able to earn honors within that field. For example, business students tend wear a black cord, medical students wear a silver one, and music and journalism students wear a red one. If you’re a member of a special organization within an academic field (such as the school newspaper), or a Greek organization, you may be eligible to wear an honor cord as well.