How to Wear a Graduation Cap

Access thousands of exclusive scholarships
for free

Deadline7 days left to apply
Create Free Account
In this article

Stepping onto the stage in a graduation cap and gown isn't just a rite of passage; it's a moment that encapsulates years of hard work and achievement. This article aims to guide you through the nuances of how to wear a graduation cap with style and poise.

Whether you're preparing to turn your tassel or simply looking to understand the ceremony's customs better, we'll discuss everything from selecting the right cap size to the final adjustments before you walk across the stage. You'll also learn how to express your individuality with personalized decorations while adhering to the decorum of commencement.

If you're worried about financing your education and want to explore scholarship opportunities, sign up for a free applicant profile on By doing so, you can gain access to new scholarships that are not found anywhere else while showcasing your unique background to scholarship panels.

graduation cap

Understanding the Tradition of Cap-and-Gown Graduation Ceremonies

Graduation ceremonies are a time-honored tradition treasured by students worldwide. An integral aspect of these celebrations is the cap-and-gown attire. This cherished practice takes root in Middle Ages tradition, a time when scholars were also clerics and wore clerical dress.

Cap-and-gown graduation ceremonies have a fascinating history, full of symbolism and significance. The gown initially served a practical purpose, providing warmth in unheated buildings.

Over time, as universities began to form, these gowns became associated with academia and scholarly pursuits. The caps, known as mortarboards due to their resemblance to a tool used by masons, symbolize the wisdom and expertise gained during one's education journey.

This traditional attire has evolved significantly over the centuries. From the long, hooded robes of the Middle Ages to today's sleek and refined style—graduation attire reflects societal changes while still maintaining its original symbolism.

Let's Delve Into This Evolution:

  • Medieval Roots: Originally, gowns were worn daily by scholars who were often also clerics. Hoods signified higher learning status and were only allowed to be worn by those who had mastered their subjects.
  • Modern Fashion: Nowadays, graduation gowns are streamlined and standardized, typically black in color across various institutions. Mortarboards have remained as the standard cap style, with tassels added for an extra flair. The color of the tassel often signifies the graduate's field of study.

Understanding this history imbues your graduation ceremony with deeper meaning—a celebration not only of personal achievement but also of an enduring academic tradition.

Get Matched to Thousands of Scholarships

Create your profile to access thousands of exclusive scholarships, available only on

Create Free Profile

1. Choosing the Right Graduation Cap

The Importance of Choosing the Right Cap Size for Comfort and Style

Your graduation cap is more than just a symbol in honor of your academic success; it's an important part of your graduation outfit that should be both comfortable and stylish. A well-fitting cap will not only make you look good but will also make you feel confident as you walk across the stage.

How to Measure Your Cap Size Correctly

To make sure you get the right fit, follow these steps to measure your cap size accurately:

  1. Get a soft measuring tape.
  2. Position it around your head where the graduation cap will sit — usually about an inch above your eyebrows and ears.
  3. Pull the tape gently, making sure it's snug but not too tight.
  4. Note down the measurement in inches or centimeters.

Tips for Choosing a Well-Fitting Graduation Cap

Here are some things to consider when choosing your graduation cap:

  • Check the Size Chart: Compare your head measurement with the size chart provided by the manufacturer to find the best fit.
  • Think About Your Hair: If you plan on styling your hair differently on graduation day, make sure to account for any extra volume or height.
  • Look for Adjustable Options: Some graduation caps have adjustable bands that allow you to customize the fit for added comfort.
  • Choose Quality Material: Opt for a cap made from high-quality fabric that will hold its shape and stay in place.

Always prioritize comfort. A cap that fits snugly but not too tightly will ensure that you can fully enjoy this special occasion without any distractions. With these tips in mind, you'll be able to celebrate your accomplishments with grace and confidence.

During your graduation year, you may have many other concerns beyond graduation regalia. Check out's scholarship blog, curated specifically by and for students.

preparing your hair for graduation cap

2. Preparing Your Hair for the Graduation Cap

Your graduation cap is a symbol of your academic achievement and should take center stage on your big day. But, your hairstyle plays an essential role, too. It can not only enhance your overall look but also significantly impact how well your cap fits and stays in place. Let's dive into some practical hair styling tips.

When choosing a hairstyle for graduation, think about simplicity and functionality. Here are a few styles that work well under a cap:

  1. Low Bun: A low bun at the nape of your neck allows the cap to sit comfortably on your head.
  2. Braids: Braids can be a stylish and practical choice as they keep hair in place without adding too much height.
  3. Straight Hair or Light Curls: Leaving your hair down is always an option. If you choose to do so, keep it straight or go for light curls instead of voluminous waves that could push against the cap.
  4. Short Cut: A neat, short haircut like a crew cut or a simple buzz cut is hassle-free and ensures that your graduation cap fits snugly without any adjustments.
  5. Side Part: A classic side part with a bit of pomade can give a clean, polished look that complements the formal attire and stays manageable under a cap.

Ensuring Your Hair Doesn't Affect the Fit of the Cap: Tips for Styling

A good fit is crucial when wearing your graduation cap. Here are some hair preparation tips to ensure your hair doesn't affect the fit:

  1. Avoid High Hairstyles: High ponytails or top knots can prevent the cap from fitting securely.
  2. Use Bobby Pins: Securely fasten your cap by crisscrossing bobby pins through your hair and the holes in the base of the cap. Bobby pins are especially helpful if there is a strong wind on graduation day.
  3. Consider a Trial Run: Before graduation day, do a trial run with your chosen hairstyle and cap to make sure everything fits and looks just right.

To make this milestone memorable, plan ahead and choose a hairstyle and makeup that complements both you and your graduation cap.

Have an interest in hair styling and the general field of beauty? Check out these cosmetology scholarships!

decorating graduation cap

3. Decorating Your Graduation Cap: Showcasing Your Individuality

When it's time to shine, let your graduation cap be the canvas for your personal story. Graduation cap decoration ideas abound, but the key is to reflect your journey and aspirations.

Gaining Inspiration for Personalized Cap Decorations

Start by reflecting on your achievements, hobbies, or future goals. Look to:

  • Quotes that have motivated you
  • Symbols representing your field of study
  • Artwork related to your college experience or cultural background

Step-by-Step Guide to DIY Grad Cap Decoration

To begin your DIY grad cap decor project:

  1. Gather materials such as fabric paint, glitter, rhinestones, and adhesive letters.
  2. Sketch out your design on paper before starting on the cap.
  3. Apply a base layer if needed; fabric or acrylic paints work well.
  4. Carefully place each element using a strong adhesive suitable for fabric.
  5. Allow ample time for drying before handling or wearing.

Balancing Creativity with Elegance: Dos and Don'ts for Decorating Your Cap

  • Do ensure decorations are securely attached to avoid mishaps during the ceremony.
  • Don't use elements that are too tall or bulky, which may obstruct views or interfere with other graduates.
  • Do consider how colors and designs will look in photos and from a distance.
  • Don't forget to adhere to any guidelines set forth by your institution regarding decorations.

By focusing on creative ways to decorate a graduation cap that resonates with who you are, you create not just an accessory for a day but a keepsake that tells the tale of this significant milestone.

adjusting grad cap

4. Putting on and Adjusting Your Graduation Cap

Correctly wearing a graduation cap is a crucial part of your graduation attire. It signifies your academic achievement and adds to your overall appearance. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you wear your graduation cap with confidence.

Step 1: Position the Cap: Ensure that the pointed end of the cap, also known as the mortarboard, faces forward. The elastic band should sit comfortably at the back of your head.

Step 2: Adjust for Comfort: The cap should cover most of your head without feeling too tight or loose. If necessary, use bobby pins to secure it. Some caps have velcro straps that attach to one another; make sure to adjust these accordingly.

Step 3: Check the Tassel: Make sure the tassel is on the right side of your cap before you walk across the stage. It will be moved to hang on the left side during a key moment in the ceremony.

Ensuring the right positioning and stability of your cap is just as important as wearing it. If positioned incorrectly, it could fall off during crucial moments or look awkward in photos. A well-adjusted cap not only ensures comfort but also adds to your overall appearance.

Tip: Have a friend or family member assist you in putting it on.

Remember that each institution may have specific requirements for how to wear a graduation cap, so always check with them if you're unsure about anything related to how to wear a graduation cap or graduation attire.

Everyone should be able to focus on perfecting their graduation caps the morning of the ceremony. Unfortunately, many students may have anxieties about looming debt. If this sounds like you, don't be afraid to explore our scholarships. With a database of thousands, we are committed to helping you ease your financial burden.

positioning your grad cap

5. Attaching and Positioning the Graduation Tassel

The graduation tassel is an important symbol in the graduation ceremony. It represents the hard work and accomplishments of the graduate.

Colors and Meanings

Graduation tassels often come in different colors, each representing a specific field of study or academic achievement. Additionally, some schools may use their official colors for all graduates. Here are some common color associations:

  1. Gold/Yellow: Science, math, or engineering
  2. White/Silver: Arts, humanities, or literature
  3. Blue: Business or administration
  4. Green: Medicine or health-related fields
  5. Purple: Law or justice studies
  6. Red: Journalism or communication
  7. Pink: Music or performing arts

Tassel Placement for Different Degrees

The position of the graduation tassel on your cap depends on the type of degree you're receiving:

  • Undergraduate students: Before receiving your diploma, wear the tassel on the right side of your cap. After your name is called and you've officially graduated, shift the tassel to the left side.
  • Master's and Doctorate degrees: Throughout the entire ceremony, including when you walk across the stage, keep the tassel on the left side of your cap.

Handling Your Tassel with Care

When it's time to turn your tassel during the ceremony, remember these tips:

  1. Do it slowly: Move the tassel from right to left (or vice versa) in a smooth and unhurried manner.
  2. Stay composed: Maintain a calm and dignified expression while performing this gesture.
  3. Avoid excessive flipping: Be careful not to swing or flip the tassel too vigorously, as it can make your cap look messy or even knock it off.
"The turning of the tassel is a symbolic moment, signifying the transition from student to graduate."
graduation celebrations

Adhering to School-Specific Practices for Cap and Tassel Wearing

While the universal guidelines of wearing a graduation cap and tassel serve as an excellent starting point, it's crucial to respect your institution's unique traditions. Institutions may have individual instructions for wearing a graduation cap and the tassel, reflecting their ethos or historical customs.

Importance of Following Your Institution's Guidelines

The graduation ceremony is a traditional rite of passage that encapsulates the spirit of the institution. It's not just about personal accomplishment but also about being part of a community with shared values and experiences. By adhering to your institution's guidelines, you embrace this sense of belonging and show respect for the university and collective identity.

Checking with Your School for Any Unique Cap and Tassel Instructions

Don't leave it until the last minute! Reach out to your school's administration or student services to confirm any specific guidelines. Some schools may have graduation regalia traditions related to the tassel position, colors, or even cap decoration. Remember to also consider the regulations for other academic regalia.

Tip: A quick email or call can save you from potential embarrassment or confusion on the big day.
Remember: These small details contribute to making your graduation experience memorable and stress-free.

As we navigate this exciting milestone, let's not forget that every school has its distinctive charm that adds to our individual journey. Embrace these nuances — they're what make your graduation truly unique. Next, we'll dive into maintaining decorum during the ceremony.

Want to celebrate your friends' achievements? Check out this blog on what to write on a graduation card!

Maintaining Decorum: Etiquette Tips While Wearing the Graduation Cap and Gown

Graduation etiquette is important in showing respect for this significant moment. When you wear a cap and gown, your actions represent both yourself and the institution recognizing your academic accomplishments. Here are some etiquette tips to help you maintain proper behavior during the ceremony:

  • Respect the Formality: Remember that a graduation ceremony is a formal event. Act with grace and dignity to match the importance of the occasion.
  • Prepare Your Attire: Adjust your cap and gown before the ceremony starts. This will prevent any distractions or disruptions later on. Well-presented graduation regalia can be the cherry on top of a landmark occasion.
  • Make Adjustments Discreetly: If you need to fix something on your outfit during the event, do it quietly and quickly so as not to draw attention away from the proceedings.
  • Sit Up Straight: Keep good posture while you're seated. Sitting upright will keep your gown looking neat and show that you're actively participating.

Following these simple guidelines will help ensure a smooth and respectful ceremony, highlighting both individual and collective achievements. It's important to remember that every participant's behavior contributes to the overall atmosphere of the event — one that celebrates an important milestone with honor and shared pride among friends.

wearing a graduation cap

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Wear a Graduation Cap

As you navigate through your graduation journey, it's natural to have a few queries. Here are answers to some common questions about wearing graduation caps:

Do I have to wear my graduation cap for the entire graduation ceremony?

You typically wear your graduation cap for the entire ceremony as a symbol of your academic achievement and participation in the event. This includes wearing it during the processional, while seated during speeches or acknowledgments, and when walking across the stage to receive your diploma.

Do I wear a graduation cap differently for a high school graduation and college graduation?

No, the method of wearing a graduation cap remains the same across high school and college graduations. The only difference might be in the color scheme or design of the cap and gown, which usually varies depending on the institution's traditions.

What do I do with graduation tassels and caps after the graduation ceremony?

Graduation tassels and caps are versatile keepsakes! You can display them in your home or office as a proud reminder of your academic achievement. Some graduates also repurpose them into bookmarks or integrate pictures of them into scrapbooks and photo albums.

Remember, these are general guidelines and there might be variations depending on individual school protocols. Some institutions will request the graduations caps to be returned while the tassels may be kept. When in doubt, always refer back to your institution's guidelines to ensure you're adhering to their specific ground rules and traditions.

Find the perfect way to say 'congrats'! 🎓 Check out our top graduation gift ideas and celebrate their big achievement in style. Explore now!