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What Is A Graduation Stole? Sash Color Meanings

Graduation ceremonies celebrate everything you have achieved during your time in school and honor individual students with major achievements.

Besides gowns and caps, people are adding colorful graduation stoles, which have different meanings as far as academic achievements go.

Below is a detailed discussion on graduation stoles and answers to your questions like ‘What is a stole?’ and “Can you wear more than one stole at graduation?” as well as the various stole colors meanings.

🎓 You might also like to read: What Side Does The Tassel Go On?

what is a graduation stole

What Is A Graduation Stole?

A graduation stole, also known as an academic stole or honor stole, is a decorative sash worn by graduating students during commencement ceremonies. While its primary function is ornamental, the graduation stole holds great symbolic meaning, representing academic achievements, organizational affiliations, and cultural identities.

They are worn draped over the shoulders, with each end hanging down the front of the graduate’s gown. The stole’s length and width can vary, depending on the institution and its specific traditions.

Graduation stoles often serve as visual indicators of a student’s accomplishments. They can signify various honors, such as academic excellence, leadership roles, or participation in specific academic societies or organizations. Some stoles bear embroidered or printed insignia, logos, or Greek letters representing fraternities or sororities.

The significance of a graduation stole extends beyond personal accolades and cultural representation. It serves as a visual reminder of the collective journey and accomplishments of a graduating class, embodying the dedication, hard work, and resilience demonstrated throughout their academic pursuits.

Graduation stoles are commonly crafted from luxurious silk or satin fabric, showcasing a wide array of vibrant colors and intricate designs. However, they are also available in other materials such as polyester, nylon, and cotton, catering to various preferences and budget considerations. It is worth noting that the choice of fabric influences the level of customization options available, including embroidery and finishing techniques.

Stoles are available in multiple colors, and the institution chooses the color of the stole you will have depending on your academic achievement. Other details such as trims are up to you and the kind of style you are going for. 

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High School Graduation Cords And Stoles Meaning

High School Graduation Cords And Stoles Meaning

High school graduation cords and stoles express an honorable badge of excellence when receiving a high school diploma. The graduation cords are placed around the student’s necks to mark their distinction at their graduation ceremony.

High school graduation cords come in a rope design and feature bright colors. They are made of intertwined thick strings and have tassels on both ends of the colorful ropes. Usually, these cords are the same length as graduation gown sleeves but can be shorter or longer for some people. 

High school stoles are like cords, but they are made of satin or silk fabric. Usually, stoles will be a few inches wide, about 5 inches wide, and go on the shoulders. They are worn just like cords but are more conspicuous, thanks to their bigger size.

Both cords and stoles can be provided by the school or customized online or in physical stores. If the school does not offer them, they will give a directive on the colors and designs of cords and stoles to ensure custom stoles match the school’s requirements.  

🎓 Suggested reading: What Cords Can You Get For High School Graduation?

Graduation Stole Meaning

Graduation Stole Meaning
Customized to include colors representing cultural significance. 

A graduation stole is a sash that graduating students wear over their shoulders to mark their academic or extracurricular achievements. These stoles come in different colors and designs to honor specific accomplishments and can be provided by the school or customized by retailers. 

In high school graduation and college commencement ceremonies, commencement speakers, valedictorians, and salutatorians will wear stoles to signify their academic standing. The stole may also be worn by graduates who participate in extracurricular activities such as drama, foreign languages, science, speech and debate, and volunteer work.

Would you like to stand out on graduation day even if you weren’t a member of a club? Some educational institutions allow you to wear a custom graduation stole or sash, which can be customized to include colors representing the colors of a flag or other cultural significance.  

College and university students may wear different kinds of stoles to show their affiliations with fraternities, sororities, club affiliations, and academic society membership. Graduate students may also wear stoles at their commencement ceremony to show their field of study, each represented by a different color.

Graduation Colors Meaning

Graduation Colors Meaning

Graduation stoles in college are available in different colors, each signifying a specific academic achievement. Schools will use different colors to celebrate achievements with stoles and cords. College & university stoles come in different colors, representing various fields of study and advanced degrees. The colors indicate the school colors of your alma mater as well. 

White Graduation Collar Meaning: White stoles and collars represent degrees in arts and humanities. The fields of study in this category include history, English, and Literature. 

Yellow Sash Graduation Meaning: Usually a pale yellow sash represents a library science major. 

Orange Graduation Belt Meaning: Students in the fields of engineering wear orange stoles or hoods at graduation.

Gold Stole Meaning: A god stole represents match and most science majors, including physics, chemistry, and practical sciences. 

Silver Stole Meaning: Silver represents speech and linguistics studies but can also be used to represent chiropractic studies. 

Beige Graduation Stole Meaning: represents business degrees, including labor relations and accounting. 

Green Graduation Belt Meaning: This color represents degrees in healthcare fields, physics majors, and pharmacy degrees. Public health graduates, however, wear salmon while nursing majors wear apricot. 

Light Blue Graduation Stole Meaning: This represents degrees in education. 

Lilac: It represents dentistry degrees, as they want to stand out from their medical field counterparts. 

Purple Sash Meaning (Scarlet): Scarlet used to be worn by law school graduates who now wear purple to distinguish themselves from theology students who have scarlet stoles. 

Brown: Brown represents fine arts degrees, including visual and theater arts. Some architecture schools wear brown. 

Copper: Economics graduates take copper to dress their robes with the color of the penny. 

Gray: This represents veterinary degrees.

Russet: This is worn by forestry and environmental science majors.  

Pink Graduation Sash: Music majors. 

Dark Blue: This represents science and philosophy majors. 

Black Graduation Stole: Honors achievements in the field of business or economics or business.

Crimson or Read Graduation Belt: Journalism field. 

How To Wear A Graduation Stole

How To Wear A Graduation Stole

You need to ensure your graduation stole layers seamlessly on your gown and stays in place the entire time. It is essential to note that college graduation stoles come in light and delicate fabric, easily slipping against other materials. 

Note: You should steam or cool iron your stole to get rid of any fold creases if you want to look your best.

So how do you wear a graduation stole and ensure it stays in place? Find the center of the stole and make sure it aligns with the back of your neck. Balance the stole to ensure the ends are on the same level over your gown. 

Once on, use a safety pin or double-sided tape to hold it down on your gown. If you use a safety pin, make sure you pin the interior side of the stole such that the pin does not show on the front side.

Here is a useful video: 

If you have a cord in addition to your stole, layer it on the stole, ensuring it is well-centered. 

How To Make A Graduation Stole

If your school or college allows custom graduation stoles then you might want to make your own. Here’s a step-by-step DIY instruction video on how to sew a custom stole and add special characters.

If you don’t have the time or skills to make your own, you can always buy a personalized graduation stole online in your school color, with a grad photo, or even with academic word art. Check out the link below:

custom stole
Custom Graduation Stole: Gift For You Now

Can you wear your own stole for graduation?

You can wear your own stole for graduation; however, you must ensure your school approves the color and design you choose. Many schools do not require that you have one at the ceremony, but if you want one, ensure it is in the right color to match your field of study. 

How to wear multiple stoles at graduation?

You can wear multiple stoles; however, it is not ideal as underlying stoles might not be visible. This is why it is standard to wear one stole and possibly add a cord to your graduation attire to maintain an orderly and put-together look. 

How do you get a stole for graduation?

Aside from graduating, you can also get a stole if you’ve participated in extracurricular activities like language clubs, science clubs, or even volunteer efforts. Your school or college administration will determine which students are qualified to wear a stole and might have them available. If not, you can get approval to make one or order one from stores that make stoles. If you have to customize one, you need to be sure of the graduation stole colors and embroidery your school allows. 

How many stoles can you wear at graduation?

Ideally, you should wear just one stole at graduation to maintain a clean and orderly look. It is not practical to have more than one stole, but you can layer one or more cords on your graduation sash to mark different achievements if you wish. 

Can you steam a graduation stole?

You can steam a graduation stole to get rid of creases caused by folding. Stoles come in delicate materials such as satin and silk, so it is recommended to steam instead of dry-ironing. 

How to layer graduation stoles?

Layer your graduation stole over once you have your graduation gown and hood on. Hold the stole in front of you to ensure the letters and symbols face away from you. Place the stole over your head and lay it on your shoulders. Make sure the stole is even on both sides. 

How to iron a graduation stole?

Use the lowest iron setting to iron your graduation stole. Stoles are made from delicate materials that can easily burn if you use a high heat setting on your iron. Ensure you do not stretch the fabric to prevent damaging it; keep it flat in its normal shape when ironing. 

Wearing an academic stole or sashes and cords has become a rite of passage for many students. One can expect to see a rainbow of colors at graduation on college campuses. Although stoles and cords may not be as common in high schools as on college campuses, some high schools choose to include them in the graduation ceremony and give them out to members of honor societies and various clubs.