In this guide, we’ve shared the history of the graduation tassel. Most notably, why we turn the tassel left or right during commencement. Unlike the cap and gown, the tassel is a recent addition to graduation attire. Actually it has only become popular in the last 50 years.
Depending on your educational level, you may move the tassel left or right after graduating. The tassel before graduation symbolizes your time as a student. When you move it to the other side, you are confirming your newfound graduate status. Today, this simple but beautiful tradition is performed at commencements across the country.
If you’re a high school student, the graduation tassel starts on the right side. The tassel is then moved to the left at the end of the ceremony.
College undergraduate ceremonies follow the same rules about turning the tassel. Master’s degree recipients start with their tassel on the left side, and leave it there throughout the entire ceremony. This is also true for doctorate recipients. The idea is that moving the tassel signifies graduation, and graduate students already have that distinction. For more information about this graduation tradition and others, check out this article.
Ideally, your tassel should be facing away from the camera, so that it doesn’t block the subject’s face in a photo. This happens to a lot of students when they walk onstage to receive their diploma, and it can detract from a special moment.
To avoid this issue, graduation faculty should plot out the student trajectory from seat to stage, so that their tassel is opposite from the camera. For example, undergraduate students should walk onstage from right to left. The reason being that their tassel will still be on their right side. This will ensure that pro photographers and family members get the best possible photos.
At GraduationSource, we love traditions that bring students together and highlight their accomplishments. Visit our blog to learn more about university history and traditions.