The history of caps and gowns as academic dress reaches far back into the earliest days of the oldest universities (12th and 13th Centuries).  The first formal notice of such graduation apparel comes as a statue of the university of Coimbra (Medieval Portugal) in 1321.  The styles and academic colors in use today were first developed by a commission, which met at Columbia University in 1895.  Even today, we continue to respect some of the earliest traditions, specifying that the cap is worn with the mortarboard parallel to the floor and that the tassel is to be worn on the right until the diploma or degree is officially recognized or conferred.  The tassel is then moved to the left.


The tassel itself represents one's education.  In the medieval university, the student wore their cap and gown every day.  In some schools in Britain, academic regalia is still worn when sitting for examinations or consulting one's adviser.  The tassel hanging beyond the corner of the right eye represents what is still to be received, the education that is yet to come.  When the public recognition of the achievement is conferred and the tassel is moved beyond the corner of the left eye, it then represents what has been learned, the education that is now committed to memory and the lessons learned.  Continue to think, as you move forward in your lives, of the right-to-left tassel movement as a metaphor for the future we expect and the past we treasure.  (Direct quote from the Minnesota School of Business Commencement Program).