Graduation cords are a common sight at graduation ceremonies. Graduates wear colorful ropes around their necks as they receive their degrees.
These cords are more than just decorative accessories; they hold a significant meaning and represent the graduating student’s hard work, achievements, and honors.
In this article, we will explore the meaning of graduation cords and the various colors and styles that represent different achievements.
We will also discuss the history of graduation cords and their significance in modern-day graduation ceremonies. Whether you are a graduate who has earned these cords or a curious observer, this article will provide a comprehensive understanding of what graduation cords mean.
What Are Graduation Cords?
Graduation cords are colorful ropes graduates wear around their necks at graduation ceremonies. These cords are typically made of twisted or braided ropes, and they come in various colors to represent different achievements or honors.
Graduation cords are usually worn in addition to the traditional cap and gown. They serve as a symbol of recognition for graduates who have achieved excellence in academics, leadership, or community service.
Graduates may earn cords by meeting specific criteria set by their institution, such as maintaining a high GPA, completing a certain number of community service hours, or being a member of an honors society.
The colors of graduation cords can vary widely, and their meaning may differ depending on the institution. We will discuss colors deeper in the article.
What Is the History Behind Them?
The history of graduation cords is not entirely clear, but it is believed that they originated in Europe during the Middle Ages. At that time, universities began emerging, and academic regalia was still a new concept.
It is said that the first academic gowns were simply adaptations of the everyday clothing worn by scholars, which often included long robes with hoods to keep warm in cold, drafty classrooms.
Over time academic regalia became more standardized, and specific colors and designs were assigned to different disciplines and degrees.
Universities in the United States eventually adopted this practice in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and it has remained a part of graduation ceremonies to this day.
Graduation cords specifically are thought to have originated in the 1800s at the United States Military Academy at West Point. It is said that cadets who earned high honors were allowed to wear gold cords around their necks at graduation.
This tradition eventually spread to other institutions and included other colors and designs to represent different achievements.
Today, graduation cords are widely used at colleges and universities across the United States and have become an essential symbol of academic achievement and honor.
They are worn with pride by graduates who have worked hard to earn them, and they serve as a reminder of the dedication and perseverance required to earn a degree.
How They Differ From Other Academic Regalia
Graduation cords are one type of academic regalia that students wear to recognize their achievements during their academic careers. Graduation cords differ from other types of academic regalia, such as caps and gowns, in several ways.
Firstly, graduation cords are worn to recognize specific achievements or honors earned by a student, whereas caps and gowns are worn as part of the traditional attire for graduation ceremonies.
They are often used to honor students who have achieved academic excellence or have participated in extracurricular activities. On the other hand, caps and gowns are worn by all graduates as a symbol of their academic achievement.
Secondly, cords are typically made of a single cord or a combination of cords twisted and worn around the neck or draped over the shoulders. They are often made of a specific color or variety of colors representing a particular achievement or honor. On the other hand, caps and gowns are made of special fabrics and designed to fit a specific style or pattern.
Thirdly, graduation cords often come in various colors, each representing a specific achievement or honor earned by the student. On the other hand, caps and gowns are typically designed in a single color, often black or a dark color, to create a uniform appearance for all graduates.
Lastly, graduation cords are worn around the neck or over the shoulders, while caps and gowns are worn on the body. The cap is worn on the head, while the gown is worn over the body, covering the clothing underneath. This distinction in placement highlights the difference in purpose between graduation cords and other types of academic regalia.
How Do Students Earn Graduation Cords?
Students wear graduation cords to honor their achievements during their academic journey. The criteria for earning graduation cords vary depending on the school or institution and the type of cord being awarded. Here are some common types of cords and their criteria.
Honor Cords. Typically awarded to students who have maintained a high-grade point average (GPA) throughout their academic career.
The specific GPA requirement may vary but is usually above 3.5 or 3.0. Some schools may also consider other factors such as class rank, standardized test scores, or leadership roles.
Leadership Cords. These cords are given to students who have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills during their academic careers. This may include holding leadership positions in clubs, organizations, or student government or organizing and leading community service projects.
Community Service Cords. Awarded to students who have committed to serving their community through volunteer work or service projects. The specific number of hours or projects required may vary, but it is usually a significant amount.
Foreign Language Cords. Language cords are given to students who have achieved a high level of proficiency in a foreign language. The criteria for earning this cord may include the following:
- Passing a language proficiency test.
- Completing a certain number of language courses.
- Participating in a language immersion program.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) Cords. Awarded to students who have completed a career and technical education program and have demonstrated mastery of the skills and knowledge required for their chosen career pathway.
Not all schools or institutions offer graduation cords, and the criteria for earning them may vary. Students should check with their school’s administration or guidance office for specific information on the cords available and their criteria for earning them.
What Institutions Utilize Graduation Cords?
While graduation cords are most commonly associated with college and university graduations, they can also be used at other levels of education.
Graduation cords may be given out at high school graduation ceremonies, particularly to recognize students who have achieved academic excellence or have participated in extracurricular activities.
In addition, graduation cords may also be used at middle school or elementary school graduation ceremonies. However, the use of graduation cords at these levels of education is less common. Therefore, their purpose may be more ceremonial than a recognition of specific achievements.
How Many To Wear?
Students can wear multiple graduation cords simultaneously to recognize their various achievements. However, there is no specific limit on the number of cords a student can wear.
The number of cords a student wears is often determined by the number of honors, achievements, or activities they have participated in during their academic career.
While there is no set limit, it is necessary to consider the aesthetic appeal of wearing multiple cords. Wearing too many can be overwhelming and may detract from the overall appearance of the graduation regalia.
Additionally, the weight of the cords may become uncomfortable to wear for an extended period.
Ultimately, deciding how many cords to wear is up to the individual student and their preference. Some students may wear only one or two cords, while others may wear several.
Colors And Their Meanings
The colors of graduation cords can vary depending on the school, institution, or program. However, here are some common colors of graduation cords and their general meanings.
Red cords are often used to recognize students who have earned honors in journalism or communications. In comparison, blue symbolizes honors in the field of education.
Gold cords are often used to recognize students who have achieved academic excellence or honors in various fields.
Green represents environmental science or sustainability. Purple recognizes law or legal studies. White cords are often used to recognize students who have earned honors in the field of nursing or healthcare. And lastly, black is for honors in business or economics.
Remember that colors can vary depending on the institution. Some institutions may use different colors or have different meanings associated with them. Students should consult their school’s graduation coordinator or administration for specific information on the colors and their meanings.
In conclusion, graduation cords are an indispensable symbol of academic achievement and recognition. These cords, worn around the neck or draped over the shoulders, honor students who have achieved academic excellence or participated in extracurricular activities during their academic careers.
While graduation cords are most commonly associated with college and university graduations, they may also be used at other levels of education to recognize student achievements and to add to the ceremonial atmosphere of graduation ceremonies.
Overall, graduation cords are a significant part of academic regalia and represent the hard work and dedication put in by students to achieve their academic goals.