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:
- Quotes for High School Graduation
- Quotes for College Graduation
- Short Quotes for a Graduation Cap
- Funny Graduation Quotes
- Uplifting or Hopeful Graduation Quotes
- Dr. Seuss Graduation Quotes
- Short Quotes for a Graduation Cap
- Graduation Quotes From Parents
- Graduation Quotes for a Niece or Nephew
- Religious Graduation Quotes
- Graduation Quotes for Yourself
- Graduation Quotes to Put in a Yearbook
- Graduation Quotes for Party Announcements or Invitations
- Graduation Quotes to Put in a Card
- Religious or Spiritual Graduation Quotes
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.
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.
Dr. Seuss Graduation Quotes
Not all of Dr. Seuss’s books are known for offering pithy quotes about life. For example, you won’t find words of wisdom in “Fox in Socks” unless “Socks on Knox and Knox in box” has a hidden meaning. Thankfully, the author wrote other children’s books (that are easier to read out loud) that offer lovely messages.
26. “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting . . . so get on your way!”
Those who think Seuss’s work is nothing but fluff should re-read Oh, The Places You’ll Go! It offers a great message to people in every stage of life (but especially graduates).
27. “Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
This, again, is another quote from Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
28. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”
Dr. Seuss is a pen name for Theodor Seuss Geisel. Geisel died in 1991.
29. “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
Graduations are sometimes tearful events. Share this quote with a graduate who isn’t ready to leave high school or college.
30. “Think and wonder. Wonder and think.”
That’s good advice for anyone—if we could all just put down our phones, we would have the opportunity to think and wonder.
31. “Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”
This quote isn’t from the often-quoted Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Instead, you can find this thoughtful line from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
Short Quotes for a Graduation Cap
Some high schools and colleges allow their graduates to decorate their mortarboards at graduation. Here are a few more short phrases to use if cap decoration is allowed.
32. “Swing for the fences.” —H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
This quote is found in Life’s Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Encourage those graduating around you to “give it their all” as they enter this new phase in life.
33. “TPWK” —Harry Styles
Undoubtedly, those in your high school or college graduation class will know what “TPWK” means. However, for those who aren’t aged 12-25, “TPWK” stands for “Treat People With Kindness.”
34. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” —Richard Carlson, Ph.D.
Yes, this is a book title, and yes, it would make a great short quote for a graduation cap. Some graduation speeches are about how to achieve great things and the importance of working hard. This quote would lend a little balance to those messages.
35. “The best is yet to come.” —Carolyn Leigh
Although this phrase appears in many different places, it is the title of a song made famous by Frank Sinatra. This quote reminds fellow graduates that life doesn’t have to peak in high school.
36. “Adventure is out there.”
This phrase can be found in Disney’s Up, among other places. For those who don’t know the reference, we encourage you to watch the movie. But, we highly recommend that you have a box of tissues nearby.
Graduation Quotes From Parents
Graduation ceremonies bring out a wide variety of emotions: happiness, sadness, excitement, and . . . relief! These emotions ring true for both the graduates and their parents.
Here are some graduation quotes that cover a wide variety of emotional states.
37. “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” African Proverb
Some parents of graduates feel thankful on graduation day for all of the people who played an essential role in their child’s life. Their child’s village may have included teachers, school staff, bus drivers, coaches, youth ministers, neighbors, scout leaders, and friends.
38. “Go forth and set the world on fire.” —St. Ignatius of Loyola
Show your graduate that you are excited about their new phase of life.
39. “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” —Robert Munsch
You may recognize these words as being from the best-selling children’s book, Love You Forever. If you view your graduate as your baby or chubby-cheeked toddler, you’ll connect with this quote.
40. “When they hand you your diploma, keep moving. Just in case they try to take it back.” —Unknown
Are you and your graduate relieved that this day has finally come? Then add a little levity to the situation by sharing this quote with your son or daughter.
41. “Dance like nobody’s watching, because they are not, they are all checking their phones.” —Unknown
We love this bit of advice from an unknown source. Use the quote to remind your graduate that life is too short to worry about what others think about you.
Graduation Quotes for a Niece or Nephew
If you are the aunt or uncle of the graduate, you may want to offer a bit of life advice as they go out into the world. So here are some quotes to share with your niece or nephew.
42. “People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.” —Isaac Asimov
Remind your niece and nephew that you are still the smart one in the family, regardless of if they just graduated from high school or college.
43. “Congratulations on getting through the easiest part of life.” —Unknown
Maybe this isn’t the warm, fuzzy quote you were looking for, but it’s funny.
44. “The future is always uncertain, but we who celebrate what you have done, who celebrate all of your achievements, we are certain of one thing on this day: You will not let us down.” —Tom Hanks
Are you confident that your niece or nephew will make positive changes in the world? Then here’s a nice quote to share with the graduate in your family.
45. “Keep your face toward the sunshine and shadows will always fall behind you.” —Walt Whitman
We know that this advice about staying positive is easier said than done, but it is a good reminder about how we should live.
46. “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” —Martin Luther King Jr.
In other words, tell your family member who just graduated to use their knowledge for good instead of evil.
Religious Graduation Quotes
If your faith is important to you, share it with the graduate. Here are some religious graduation quotes that will remind the young person that there’s more to life than school.
47. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11
This quote is from the text of a letter Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles.
48. “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3
No matter what the graduate plans to do for a career, this is good advice to share.
49. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
This is one of our favorite quotes from the Old Testament.
50. “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith and your purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
The Bible is full of important messages for young people to hear, but this verse from 1 Timothy is an excellent reminder to adults.
51. “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37
Reassure your graduate that they can achieve their dreams with this quote from Luke.
Graduation Quotes for Yourself
Are you moving on from high school, college, grad school, or a doctoral program? Congratulations! These milestones are often times for reflection and thanksgiving (as well as celebration).
Here are some quotes about having a positive outlook for your future and the importance of perseverance.
52. “When things go wrong, as they sometimes will.
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest. If you must– but don’t you quit.” – Unknown
We aren’t sure who to attribute this quote to, but your accomplishments, plus these words, will surely inspire others.
53. “If you really want something, you can figure out how to make it happen.” – Cher
Here are words of advice from someone who never seems to age.
54. “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” – Beverly Sills
This quote will inspire others to invest in their future.
55. “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
This would be a good quote to use in a graduation speech.
56. “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb
Your road to graduation may not have been smooth. However, you kept putting one foot in front of the other.
57. “The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.” – George Baker
Congratulations on your new beginning.
58. “Oh god, give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed; courage to change what should be changed, and wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.” – Reinhold Niebuhr
Read this quote every day.
59. “Grant me the courage not to give up even though I think it is hopeless.” – Chester W. Nimitz
Face your challenges in life with this attitude.
60. “The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.” – Leo Tolstoy
You may serve others through your work or during your time away from work.
61. “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” – Mother Teresa
We love this quote. Dust it off and read it when you’re feeling small.
62. “What you think of yourself is much more important than what others think of you.” – Seneca
Remember this if you face rejection after graduation.
Graduation Quotes to Put in a Yearbook
Choosing a yearbook quote is an important right of passage in some schools. The selection you choose is pretty important — after all, people don’t throw away yearbooks. Your quote will be there for all to see until the end of your life.
While you might be tempted to include a quote that includes a double entendre or inside joke, your choice might make you cringe later in life. Instead, here are some quotes to uplift or inspire you.
63. “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.” – Janis Joplin
Sometimes people choose a quote based on WHO said it instead of WHAT is said.
64. “All the wonders you seek are within yourself.” – Sir Thomas Brown
Sir Thomas Brown was a British polymath, defined as “a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning.”
65. “We are the choices we make.” – Meryl Streep
So we must choose wisely.
66. “Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.” – Erica Jong
We hope your talent and courage get you far in life.
67. “I celebrate myself, and sing myself.” – Walt Whitman
These lines, of course, are from Whitman’s work, “Leaves of Grass.”
68. “If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” – Emile Zola
We love this quote about grabbing the bull by the horn.
69. “Seize the day, put no trust in tomorrow.” – Horace
70. “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins . . . not through strength, but through persistence.” – Unknown
This quote can be illustrated in some of the wonders of nature.
71. “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Chinese Proverb
This often-repeated quote should encourage those entering a new phase of life.
72. “Don’t wait for something big to occur. Start where you are, with what you have, and that will always lead you into something greater.” – Mary Manin Morrissey
Mary Manin Morrissey is the author of “Building Your Field of Dreams.”
73. “The person who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” – Chinese Proverb
So get started!
74. “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” – Mark Twain
Many self-help books have been written with this theme. We’ve saved you a lot of reading time by offering this short quote from Mark Twain.
Graduation Quotes for Party Announcements or Invitations
Finding a quote for a graduation announcement should be a relatively simple process. After all, you can use any inspiring quote or one that offers advice on living a good life. Here are some quotes to choose from as you design your invitations.
75. “I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.” – Carrie Fisher
Here’s a quote for the art majors.
76. “Life is a verb, not a noun.” – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Here’s a quote for the English majors. Though, they may not choose to use it because it’s incorrect in the literal sense.
77. “So I, with eager voice and news-flushed face, cry to those caught in comas, stupors, sleeping: Come, everything is running, flying, leaping, hurtling through time! And we are in this race.” – Jessica Powers
Jessica Powers was an American poet.
78. “The important thing is to somehow begin.” – Henry Moore
Henry Moore was an artist known for semi-abstract bronze sculptures.
79. “Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step: only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find his right road.” – Dag Hammarskjold
Dag Hammarskjold was the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
80. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
You’ll see this quote on a lot of graduation websites.
81. “Be Here Now.” – Ram Dass
Read this quote again. Then put down your device.
82. “The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine. Forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Hang this quote on your refrigerator or mirror.
83. “The purpose of life on earth is that the soul should grow — So grow! By doing what is right.” – Zelda Fitzgerald
Zelda Fitzgerald wrote this line in a letter to her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
84. “To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable” – Helen Keller
Here are words of inspiration for the graduate.
85. “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” – Karen Kaiser Clark
Karen Kaiser Clark writes books about going through changes.
86, “Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments.” – Rose Kennedy
Rose Kennedy was the mother of JFK.
87. “I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Many graduation quotes are about achieving great things and living important lives. However, this quote may appeal to those who enjoy the simple parts of life.
Graduation Quotes to Put in a Card
Here’s your chance! Share what you have learned about life by writing a poignant quote in the graduate’s card.
88. “If I had my life to live over again . . . I would have more actual troubles and less imaginary ones.” – Nadine Stair
This is good advice for someone who may be anxious about their future.
89. “Life is like a ten-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use.” – Charles Schulz
Of course, follow this quote with words to encourage the graduate to use all of their gifts.
90. “Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint on it you can!” – Danny Kaye
Danny Kaye was an actor, dancer, and singer.
91. “Remember, life is not what happens to you but what you make of what happens to you. Everyone dies, but not everyone fully lives. Too many people are having “near-life experiences.” – Unknown
What did you do today to show that you are fully living?
92. “Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, and to work, and to play, and to look up at the stars.” – Henry Van Dyke
This quote may help the graduate gain an essential perspective on life.
93. “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” – Marcus Antonius
Junk in — junk out.
94. “The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” – Joseph Addison
Everyone needs a reason to get up in the morning.
95. “We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” – Charles Kingsley
Charles Kingsley was an English priest and professor.
96. “Life is like playing a violin solo in public, and learning the instrument as one goes on.” – Samuel Butler
This quote is excellent on many levels.
97. “If you want my final opinion on the mystery of life and all that, I can give it to you in a nutshell. The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination, But the combination is locked up in the safe.” – Peter De Vries
Peter De Vries wrote “The Tunnel of Love.”
98. “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
This quote encourages the graduate to give back to society.
Religious or Spiritual Graduation Quotes
Graduation is a milestone event, making it a time of reflection. Here are some quotes about the spiritual side of life.
99. “This is the day which the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalms 118:24
King David wrote many of the Psalms.
100. “Let your aim be the good of all.”
This quote is from the Bhagavad Gita.
101. “The only way to live is to accept each minute as an unrepeatable miracle, which is exactly what it is: a miracle and unrepeatable.” – Storm Jameson
Margaret Ethel Storm Jameson was an English journalist and author.
102. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein’s quotes always surprise us.
103. “All the things of the universe are perfect miracles, each as profound as any.” – Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman lived from 1819 to 1892.
104. “There is a giant asleep within every man. When that giant awakes, miracles happen.” – Frederick Faust
Frederick Faust was an author known for creating the character Dr. James Kildare.
105. “They understand but little who understand only what can be explained.” – Marie Ebner-Eschenbach
Marie Ebner-Eschenbach was an Austrian writer known for her psychological novels.
106. “Faith is like electricity. You can’t see it, but you can see the light.” – Unknown
Encourage the graduate to be a light in the world.
107. “Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.” – Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau was known for writing Walden, his story about living in nature.
108. “If a blade of grass can grow in a concrete walk and a fig tree in the side of a mountain cliff, a human being empowered with an invincible faith can survive all odds the world can throw against his tortured soul.” – Robert H. Schuller
Robert Schuller was an American pastor who died in 2015.
109. “Faith is not knowledge of what the mystery of the universe is, but the conviction that there is a mystery, and that it is greater than us.” – Rabbi David Wolpe
Rabbi David Wolpe is a weekly columnist for New York Jewish Week.
110. “Faith is knowing that there is an ocean because you have seen a brook.” – William Arthur Ward
William Arthur Ward was an American motivational writer.
111. “Faith is not being sure where you’re going but going anyway.” – Frederick Buechner
This is a good quote for someone leaving school.
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.