A Collection of Classic and Inspirational Graduation Quotes

Give a graduate the gift of sage advice and pearls of wisdom

These graduation quotes can help you find just the right words to give your teen.
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Whether you're looking for something meaningful to write in your teen's graduation card or you're hoping to offer a bit of humor or real-life advice, here's some help in finding just the right words. With luck, these graduation quotes can provide a little inspiration that your graduate may take to heart. Quotes come from brilliant men and women, some who are still very much alive and some who have passed, but all who have gifted us with their legacies of wit and wisdom.

Quotes Infused With Humor

Erma Bombeck: "Graduation day is tough for adults. They go to the ceremony as parents. They come home as contemporaries. After twenty-two years of child-raising, they are unemployed."

Robert Orben: "A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that 'individuality' is the key to success."

Bill Watterson: "So, what’s it like in the real world? Well, the food is better, but beyond that, I don’t recommend it.” 

Quotes With a Dose of Reality

Will Rogers: “Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger: "Just remember, you can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets."

Doug Larson: "The trouble with learning from experience is that you never graduate."

Vidal Sassoon: "The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

Melanie White: "Now that you’ve graduated, just remember: Bosses don’t usually accept notes from your mother.”

Arie Pencovici: "Graduation is only a concept. In real life every day you graduate. Graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life. If you can grasp that, you'll make a difference."

Susan B. Anthony: "Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these."

Quotes That Cultivate a Hopeful Mindset

Dr. Seuss: "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go."

Orrin Hatch: "There is a good reason they call these ceremonies 'commencement exercises.' Graduation is not the end; it's the beginning."

Dalai Lama: "Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck."

Henry David Thoreau: "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."

Author Unknown: "All that stands between the graduate and the top of the ladder is the ladder."

Steve Jobs: "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."

Richard Halliburton: "Just about a month from now I'm set adrift, with a diploma for a sail and lots of nerve for oars."

Newton D. Baker: "The man who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow is uneducated the day after."

George Addair: "Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear."

Robert Frost: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." 

Wayne Gretzky: "You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take."

Farrah Gray: "Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs."

Walt Disney: "All our dreams can come true...if we have the courage to pursue them."

Neil Gaiman: "Now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art."

Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail."