Schools and organizations determine what regalia graduating students wear. While all students wear the designated cap and gown, only students who participate in certain activities or organizations or who earn high academic achievement wear cords and stoles.
Cap and Gown
Gowns for associate and bachelor's degrees are worn fully closed and should fall to a mid-calf length. At many schools, students place the tassel over the right side of the mortarboard cap, switching the tassel to the left after graduation. For advanced degrees, gowns can be worn either open or closed. The tassel is traditionally worn on the left and does not change sides after graduation.
Stole and Cord
Stoles typically represent an organization the student participated in or his academic department. Cords often indicate academic achievement. Graduates wear both the stole and cord draped over the shoulders on top of the gown. Schools may require students to wear only a single stole, but many allow multiple cords. Put the cord around the back of your neck so the tassels fall down evenly on the front of your graduation gown. Wear the stole the same way, allowing the ends to point straight down. Both pieces drape across the shoulders without tying or further securing.
- Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images