What Cords Can You Get for High School Graduation?

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Are you an upcoming senior looking to determine what cords may be in your near future? Are you anxious about graduation and want to know what your cords mean? You have come to the right place.

Your graduation cords are achievements that you have earned throughout your high school tenure. These cords are hung around a graduate’s neck during the graduation ceremony. They are often called by several different names, but all of them mean the same thing. Other cords will often have a variety of meanings.

Keep reading to find information about honor cords’ color meaning, the requirements for receipt, and even where you can buy them.  What are you waiting for?

What Do the Cords Mean in High School?What Do the Cords Mean in High School?

If you have ever been to a graduation ceremony, you are likely familiar with the cords many graduates wear. These cords may just be colored ropes, but they provide so much more symbolism. They are symbolic of the pride that students have in their work and the effort put into the activities they represent.

These cords can mean different things at different educational levels. For high school students, these cords denote different honor societies and organizations of which teens can be a part. Cords are seen as badges of honor used to represent your participation and excellence in a particular group or organization. These cords provide more distinction and recognition for the student as it denotes a commitment to that organization and their high school education.

Honor cords are not something that all students will receive, and no two students will likely have the same cords. If you are unfamiliar with a cord or have never seen one, it is a long cord that drapes around the graduate’s neck. Often this cord is made up of twisted strands in one color or two. The cords will have a tassel on end. Some tassels may even be adorned with charms or other decorations which represent the organization that they stand for.

Cords are universal in the sense that they can be seen at high school, college, and advanced degree ceremonies. Several other physical honors can be bestowed at graduation. These include tassels, hoods, graduation stoles, and even pins.

However, graduation stoles will often be seen at college graduations rather than high schools. These stoles will usually come in the same colors as the cords. Both of which have distinguished meaning.

What Do the Colors of Honor Cords Mean?

What Do the Colors of Honor Cords Mean?

Its color often symbolizes the meaning of a cord. Depending on the school your child attends, different colors may mean different things at varying high schools.  Though this is so, there are colors that are standard across different high schools. These cords are known as an honor. Honor cords’ color meaning will likely be the same no matter where you go.

The colors of the cords you receive are significant and often represent different disciplines, societies, or achievements.

High schools can sometimes have a tendency to mix colors depending on their need or the organization they represent. It is ultimately the school’s decision for what cords will be for what activities or achievements. However, the typical meanings of these colors are as follows:


Red cords are most times used to represent the arts or membership to an abundance of societies. Depending on the organization, red cords will often be mixed with gold or other colors to symbolize certain honor societies. Organizations that utilize red cords include the Spanish National Honor Society, which has a red or red and gold cord. The American Student Government Association also uses a red or red and blue cord.


Maroon and red cords are often meant to symbolize the same types of organizations. They are generally used to represent achievement in a number of honor societies. Some examples of these societies include Omega Chi Epsilon and Alpha Sigma Lambda. These colors are typically seen when an individual is receiving a theology degree.


Gold cords are some of the most common ones to be seen at graduation. They are also generally symbolic of high honors. This means that the wearer has a high GPA or is a part of the National Honor Society. This is the cord color most seen on the graduation stage as it is given for achievement rather than participation in a specific club.


Black cords are often used to bring awareness to a person’s strength or leadership ability. Black cords are often used to denote excellence in economics, business, and many other corporate-level fields. This field can even include management.


Another standard color is silver or grey. Silver cords are generally used for individuals in the medical sciences. This also can include physics and agriculture. In some school systems, silver cords may also be used for community service.


Last but not least, purple is generally awarded to students who have degree types like urban planning, law students, and even dental students.

These cord colors are often standard for high school and college students, though the meanings may vary. Many organizations will even mix two cords together to form the colors significant to their organization or club. There are several different graduation cord requirements to receive the colored cords mentioned above.

How to Earn Honor Cords in High School?

How to Earn Honor Cords in High School?

If you’re a high school student, you may be wondering how you can end your tenure with several graduation cords.  The answer to the question is simple, but the execution may be a little more complicated. To earn your honor cords, you will need to dedicate yourself to your studies and your extracurriculars. There are several ways for you to achieve your cords. The activities listed below are just a few of them.

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities are one of the main ways to get cords in high school. Participating in a variety of clubs and outside opportunities will give students the edge they need to get cords to adorn their graduation gowns. Some activities that students can get involved in include student government/council, key club, and even a variety of community service opportunities.

Academics or National Honor Societies

Another sure-fire way to get cords to wear at graduation is to excel academically. We know that is a task that is easier said than done. You will need to be resourceful, dedicated, disciplined, and hardworking. Excelling academically will, in turn, make you eligible for a number of honor societies and academic clubs.


Volunteering can be a reward for you as well as the people you are serving. It is often one significant way for students to get cords. This is the perfect avenue for anyone who loves service and has a passion for helping people. Depending on the level of service, there are often different stipulations for students to receive these cords. For some organizations, this is over 100 hours.

If you think that you are eligible to receive cords or any other achievement-related adornments, it is a good idea to check with your counselor or the specific department from which the cords come from. If they are not able to tell you if you are qualified, they are undoubtedly able to direct you to the right place to receive them.

What GPA Do You Need to Get Cords?

What GPA Do You Need to Get Cords?

It’s important to remember that not all honor cords will have a GPA stipulation. Some are simply based on the length of time in a program, the significance of your achievement, and various other factors depending on the program.

Latin honor cords are always GPA-specific. However, there are a number of cords which a GPA requirement will need to be met to receive them. Cum Laude, Magna cum laude, and summa cum laude are three distinct honors awarded to students with high GPAs.  Each of the names has a special meaning and its own GPA requirements to go with it.

Cum Laude

Students who qualify for Cum Laude must graduate with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 in order to obtain this card. This is the lowest level of honors that a student can receive but is still a fantastic feat. The name Cum Laude is significant as well because it means “With Praise.” Essentially the cord is giving praise to students earning over the threshold GPA.

Magna Cum Laude

The second level of honors is Magna Cum Laude.  Students who have earned this cord have finished their high school tenure with a GPA of 3.75. Much like Cum Laude, the name has significance. Magna Cum Laude alternatively means “with great honor.” Students who are receiving these cords should feel great honor for their achievements.

Summa Cum Laude

Last but not least is Summa Cum Laude. This is the highest level of honors that a student can receive. It is a highly coveted and distinguished honor. This cord is given to a student with a cumulative GPA of 3.9. This means that students who achieve this honor have had nearly perfect grades for all of their years in education. Summa Cum Laude in Latin means “with the highest honor,” a direct translation to what it represents.

Where to Buy Graduation Cords?

Where to Buy Graduation Cords?

Graduation cords can be purchased from a number of different places. There are several avenues for them to be bought online through a variety of third-party vendors and sellers. They will often have colors that correspond to specific organizations available for purchase. Some sites will allow these cords to be purchased by anyone, while others will mandate that you are a school official.

However, as a student, many times, these cords can be directly purchased from the school or an entity affiliated with the school. Some cords will also come directly from the school and be given as a “gift” to students. These are generally provided for students within Honor Societies or who have received high honors for graduation.

Wrapping Things Up: What Cords Can You Get for High School Graduation?

Honor cords in high school, much like college, have an extremely significant for students. They are something that they can wear with pride and honor. Many students with several cords represent the organization and the extreme discipline and hard work that it takes to receive them.

Overall, there are several different cords that you can receive for graduating high school. These cords can come from honor societies like the National Society of High School Scholars or the National Spanish Honor Society. Other ways for students to get cords to include extracurricular activities, volunteering, and academic achievement.

These organizations are represented in various colors. Though cords can be a mix of colors, there are some standard colors that are universal for all. This includes colors like gold for high achievement or black for management.  However, regardless of your cords’ color and how many you receive, make sure you wear them with pride.

> What is a High School Baccalaureate?

> What is Post-Secondary School?

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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