25+ Inspiring Quotes About Graduation for 2021 Grads


High school and college seniors often face graduation with a mixture of anticipation, excitement, and trepidation. Their parents may share those complicated emotions as well. Regardless of how the graduates feel, it is common to celebrate this milestone with parties and gifts and even sharing a short quote about graduation.

Jump ahead to these sections:

Here are some uplifting, inspiring, and encouraging quotes. Add them above your signature in graduation cards, use them as decorations, or write them in yearbooks. Reassure those scared seniors that they are ready for life on the other side of formal education.

Quotes for High School Graduation

Eighteen-year-olds are often excited to get the heck out of Dodge. They are ready for freedom, adventure, and life without their parents. At the same time, many older teens crave the comfort of being taken care of at home. These conflicting emotions can understandably cause quite a bit of angst. 

Here are some quotes to reassure those seniors. These quotes can also be used to teach seniors about some of the keys to a happy life. Share them on social media, or use them as filler when creating a memory board as a graduation party decoration.  

1. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Remind the graduate that character is a critical factor in succeeding in life. Having a good attitude may not give you riches, but it will provide you with peace of mind.

2. “What’s popular isn’t always right, and what’s right isn’t always popular!” Unknown

You probably have said this until you are blue in the face if you are a graduate’s parent. Remind your child who is going to college to focus on what is right instead of acting as everyone else does.

3. “A person can succeed at anything for which there is enthusiasm.” Charles M. Schwab

Enthusiasm is one of the keys to having a happy life. Apparently, Charles M. Schwab must have been very enthusiastic about money to have achieved the success that he enjoyed.

4. “What the human mind can conceive and believe, it can accomplish.” David Sarnoff

This quote may only be partially right. No one has found an easy way to fold a fitted sheet. Perhaps this generation will accomplish that dream.

5. Triumph is just an “ump” ahead of “try.” Unknown

Tell your graduate that success comes after taking chances and trying hard. 

ยป CAKE FOR ENTERPRISE: Leading health care organizations know the future of advance care planning is digital. Partner with Cake to create your digital solution.


Quotes for College Graduation

College graduates may also face their futures with trepidation and worry. After all, many of them have student loans to pay off and no income in which to do it. Here are some quotes that offer advice and encouragement for those getting started in the working world.

6. “Hitch your wagon to a star.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you know anything about Ralph Waldo Emerson, you know that he was not encouraging people to rub shoulders with the Hollywood elite. The “star” Emerson wrote about was a person’s hopes and dreams.

7. “There exist limitless opportunities in every industry. Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.” Charles F. Kettering

Our great-great-grandparents would not have been able to fathom how we live today. It’s exciting to think about what the current generation will invent to improve the world.

8. “Enthusiasm reflects confidence, spreads good cheer, raises morale, inspires associates, arouses loyalty, and laughs at adversity. It is beyond price.” Allan Cox

Share this idea with the college graduate, and you will be sharing the secret to a happy and productive life.

9. “Energy and perseverance can fit a man for almost any kind of position.” Theodore F. Merseles

College graduates may face the job market with trepidation. They may wonder if their education really prepared them for the real world. Remind the young person to face new tasks with enthusiastic optimism, and they will be able to achieve anything.

10. “When I was a young man, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. I didn’t want to be a failure, so I did ten times more work.” George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw wrote Pygmalion, which later inspired the creation of the musical My Fair Lady

Short Quotes for a Graduation Cap

Before you bling your cap, make sure your high school or college allows the practice. If permitted, you may use the space to thank your parents for their love and support. Here are some quotes to consider. 

11. “It may be those who do most, dream most.” -- Stephen Leacock

Tell others at graduation that you have ambition and big dreams for your life. 

12. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” John Lennon

Life is full of possibilities. It’s exciting to face a new adventure after completing a milestone in your life. 

13. “Little by little, one travels far.” J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien was the author of the Lord of the Ring series. He wrote many amazing lines about life, travel, and adventure. 

14. “There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.” J.R.R. Tolkien

The fight for good can be done in many ways. You can do it by being an excellent example to others. You can do it with carefully chosen words. 

15. “Mischief managed.” J.K. Rowling

Fans of Harry Potter will recognize this line from the book and the movies. This is a cute way to say goodbye to high school or college if the graduate participated in a few adventures along the way.

Funny Graduation Quotes

The quote you pick for a college graduate doesn’t have to sound like a Greek philosopher wrote it. Here are some pieces of advice written by people with a knack for words.

16. “An optimist is someone who goes after Moby Dick in a rowboat and takes the tartar sauce with him.” Zig Ziglar

Encourage the graduate you know to have a positive mental attitude in life. 

17. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein

It may be cruel to share this wisdom with a college senior who spent thousands of dollars to earn a diploma. But if Albert Einstein said it, it must be true.

18. “Enthusiasm, like measles, mumps, and the common cold, is highly contagious.” Benjamin Disraeli

The word “contagious” may have a bad rap, but not everything that is contagious is terrible.

19. “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” Robert Frost

Congratulations! You made it through high school! It’s harder to get through it then one could imagine. 

20. “Life is now in session. Are you present?” B. Copeland

One of the keys to academic success is simply being present. Perhaps we could say the same about life. Are you present in your life or always on your phone or watching Netflix?

Uplifting or Hopeful Graduation Quotes

Make sure your quote has positive energy, similar to what you would write in a time capsule letter

21. “Attitudes are much more important than aptitudes.” Unknown

Maybe your graduate wasn’t a member of the National Honor Society and received an average SAT score. Remind the young person that their attitude is more important than test scores and memberships in honor organizations. 

22. “The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.” Aldous Huxley

Remind the person who is on the brink of adulthood to keep the spirit of a child.

23. “It’s not where you are today that counts. It’s where you are headed.” Arthur F. Lenehan

Even if the graduate had a less than stellar academic career, he or she could still achieve great things. 

24. “The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them.” Proverbs 18:15

Graduates must know that their education will continue through life, but only if they are open to learning and growing.

25. “I am an optimist. It does not seem to much use being anything else.” Winston Churchill

Leave it to Winston Churchill to describe the secret of life in such simplistic terms. 

What Was the Best Advice You Ever Received?

As you read these inspiring, inspirational, and positive quotes, you may consider the best advice you have ever received. It may have been shared with you at your high school or college graduation. 

Was the advice about the importance of keeping a positive attitude? Perhaps it reminded you that you would need to work hard to achieve great things in life. Maybe it was a friendly reminder that the people you choose to surround yourself with will assist or hinder you in achieving your dreams.  

Take thought in the advice that you give to the graduate. Instead of merely writing “good luck” on the graduation card, share the best advice that you had ever received. Or tell the graduate some of what you have learned about life through the years.  

You never know how the power of your words could change a person’s life. 

If you're looking for more on what to do when a loved one graduates, read our guides on physical therapy (DPT) graduation gifts and medical school graduation gifts.


Icons sourced from FlatIcon.