American academic tassels: what the colours mean

I’m fascinated by the subject of colour blindness

A friend told me about a boyfriend she once had, whose job it was to sell tassels to go on the mortarboards of graduating students from the University of Ohio.

The colour depended on which subject you’d taken (engineering = orange, medicine = green, nursing = apricot, dentistry = lilac (I reckon I’d have chosen my subject by colour. Purple means I’d probably have been a lawyer).

After graduation, furious and embarrassed students filed in to the shop, telling him they’d been sold the wrong colour tassel.

Turns out he was colourblind and couldn’t differentiate between the: isn’t it fascinating how colour can cause such confusion and irritation on such a grand scale?

It got me thinking about what the different tassel colours actually mean. Here’s a run-down for you.

The colours of American educational faculties


Each tassel colour/color denotes a student’s faculty or subject.

The colours tend to have an historic or symbolic association with the faculty they represent, such as the maize colour denoting agriculture.

Isn’t that just wonderful?!

Martha, The Colour File x

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