100 Graduation Quotes That Will Inspire You to Pursue Your Dreams

Whether you're trying to write the perfect graduation card or find some personal inspiration, we have graduation quotes to entertain, teach, love, and inspire graduates.

Joy, fear, excitement, anxiety, relief, stress, pride, and perhaps even a little surprise—graduating can inspire a host of different emotions. And that’s just what the parents go through during the ceremony!

The graduates themselves may ride a similar rollercoaster, and it can be easy for everyone to feel like they are in uncharted waters. But the graduating class of 2022 is not the first to graduate into a challenging and exciting situation, nor will it be the last. Whether you are cheering on a new graduate or you are the grad yourself, reading graduation quotes can help you feel less alone.

These graduation quotes will bring laughter, inspiration, and motivation to achieve goals. They’ll deliver wise advice and smart warnings, and help overcome fears about the future. For more graduation inspiration, we’ve got life quotes, uplifting quotes, life-changing quotes, quotes about time, and the best graduation gifts.

Funny graduation quotes

Graduation Quote by Tom MagliozziRD.com, Getty Images

1. “You will never have more energy or enthusiasm, hair, or brain cells than you have today.” —Tom Magliozzi

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

3. “If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.” —Muhammad Ali

4. “If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in the dark with a mosquito.” —Betty Reese

5. “Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path—unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means, you should follow that.” —Ellen DeGeneres

6. “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” —Winston Churchill

7. “To those of you who received honors, awards, and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say you too may one day be president of the United States.” —George W. Bush

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

Graduation Quote by Lin-Manuel MirandaRD.com, Getty Images

9. “My dear terrified graduates, you are about to enter the most uncertain and thrilling period of your lives.” —Lin-Manuel Miranda

10. “The unfortunate, yet truly exciting, thing about your life is that there is no core curriculum. The entire place is an elective.” —Jon Stewart

11. “Every year, many, many stupid people graduate from college. And if they can do it, so can you.” —John Green

12. “You are graduating from college. That means that this is the first day of the last day of your life. No, that’s wrong. This is the last day of the first day of school. Nope, that’s worse. This is a day.” —Andy Samberg

13. “Be wise, because the world needs wisdom. If you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise, and then just behave like they would.” —Neil Gaiman

14. “Commencement speeches were invented largely in the belief that outgoing college students should never be released into the world until they have been properly sedated.” —Gary Trudeau

15. “At graduation you get to wear a cap and gown, but it’s a good idea to also wear something underneath it.” —Greg Tamblyn

Inspirational graduation quotes

Graduation Quote by Edward KochRD.com, Getty Images

16. “The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse.” —Edward Koch

17. “Cynicism has never won a war, or cured a disease, or started a business, or fed a young mind, or sent men into space. Cynicism is a choice. Hope is a better choice.” —Barack Obama

18. “That clock you hear is the sound of your own heart. Sink your teeth into this life, and don’t get let go.” —Lin-Manuel Miranda

19. “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible.'” —Audrey Hepburn

20. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” —Anne Frank

21. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

22. “I encourage you to live with life. Be courageous, adventurous. Give us a tomorrow, more than we deserve.” —Maya Angelou

23. “Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered.” —Michelle Obama

24. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” —Dr. Seuss

25. “So long as your desire to explore is greater than your desire to not screw up, you’re on the right track.” —Ed Helms

Graduation Quote by Maya RudolphRD.com, Getty Images

26. “If I must give any of you advice it would be to say yes. Say yes, and create your own destiny.” —Maya Rudolph

27. “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” —C.S. Lewis

28. “Life is my college. May I graduate well and earn some honors!” —Louisa May Alcott

29. “Remember this: You are awesome. I’m not suggesting you be boastful, but I am suggesting that believing in yourself is the first necessary step to coming even close to achieving your potential.” —Sheryl Sandberg

30. “The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away.” —Joy J. Golliver

31. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” —Dr. Seuss

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

33. “Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you know.” —Winnie the Pooh

College graduation quotes

Graduation Quote by Jonathan WintersRD.com, Getty Images

34. “I couldn’t wait for success. I went ahead without it.” —Jonathan Winters

35. “You cannot dream of becoming something you do not know about. You have to learn to dream big. Education exposes you to what the world has to offer, to the possibilities open to you.” —Sonia Sotomayor

36. “Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” —Albert Einstein

37. “There will be times when your best isn’t good enough. There can be many reasons for this, but as long as you give your best you’ll be OK.” —Robert De Niro

38. “If at first you don’t succeed, find out if the loser gets anything.” —William Lyon Phelps

39. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” —Steve Jobs

40. “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” —Vidal Sassoon

41. “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” —Wayne Gretzky

42. “You will stumble and fall, you will experience both disaster and triumph, sometimes in the same day. But it’s really important to remember that like a hangover, neither triumphs nor disasters last forever.” —Helen Mirren

Nothing lasts forever. Repeat as many times as it takes to believe it, and read these life is short quotes.

Graduation Quote by Arnold SchwarzeneggerRD.com, Getty Images

43. “You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.” —Arnold Schwarzenegger

44. “If we’d all stuck with our first dream, the world would be overrun with cowboys and princesses. So whatever your dream is right now, if you don’t achieve it, you haven’t failed and you’re not some loser.” —Stephen Colbert

45. “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” —John F. Kennedy

46. “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” —Albert Schweitzer

47. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” —Mahatma Gandhi

48. “Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

49. “Patience! The windmill never strays in search of the wind.” —Andy J. Sklivis

Setting big goals can feel more exciting and produce greater results. Use these “dream big” quotes to get inspired.

High school graduation quotes

Graduation Quote by Mark TwainRD.com, Getty Images

50. “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” —Mark Twain

51. “The Lord gave us two ends: One to sit on, and the other to think with. Success depends on which one we use the most.” —Ann Landers

52. “Empathy has gotten me so much farther in not only my life but in my career.” —Ryan Reynolds

53. “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” —Stephen King

54. “Your inexperience is an asset in that it will make you think in original, unconventional ways. Accept your lack of knowledge, and use it as your asset.” —Natalie Portman

55. “Understand that one day you will have the power to make a difference, so use it well.” —Mindy Kaling

56. “You must have some vision for your life. Even if you don’t know the plan, you have to have a direction in which you choose to go.” —Oprah

57. “You will find the key to success under the alarm clock.” —Benjamin Franklin

58. “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” —E. E. Cummings

Need a little more motivation? These empowering strength quotes will give you courage and confidence.

59. “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” —Oprah

Learning to be grateful for what you have is one of the most important adulting skills you can develop.

Graduation Quote by Arthur AsheRD.com, Getty Images

60. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” —Arthur Ashe

61. “Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor.” —Jackson Browne

62. “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” —Maya Angelou

63. “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” —Thomas Jefferson

64. “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” —Abraham Lincoln

65. “Every person you meet knows something you don’t—learn from them.” —H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

66. “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.” —George Washington Carver

67. “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” —James Freeman Clarke

68. “Keep your face toward the sunshine, and shadows will always fall behind you.” —Walt Whitman

69. “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Short graduation quotes

Graduation Quote by Jerry ZuckerRD.com, Getty Images

70. “It doesn’t matter that your dream came true if you spent your whole life sleeping.” —Jerry Zucker

71. “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” —Frank A. Clark

72. “Change takes courage.” —Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

73. “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” —Michael Jordan

74. “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” —Babe Ruth

75. “We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.” —Kenji Miyazawa

76. “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.” —Rosa Parks

77. “You don’t have to be fearless, just don’t let the fear stop you.” —Charlie Day

78. “May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears.” —Nelson Mandela

79. “Worry is like a rocking chair—it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” —Erma Bombeck

80. “The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spaces.” —Will Rogers

Graduation Quote by Michael AltschulerRD.com, Getty Images

81. “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” —Michael Altschuler

82. “Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” —John F. Kennedy

83. “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” —Margaret Thatcher

84. “The future is not an inheritance, it is an opportunity and an obligation.” —Bill Clinton

85. “Life has no remote. Get up and change it yourself.” —Mark A. Cooper

86. “Graduates, we need you to save the world.” —Pierce Brosnan

87. “Your schooling may be over, but remember that your education still continues.” Unknown

88. “Be allergic to failure and addicted to success.” —Daniel Roberts

89. “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” —Vincent Van Gogh

90. “You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result.” —Mahatma Ghandi

91. “I make my weaknesses my strengths and my strengths stronger.” —Lisa Fernandez

92. “When someone does something good, applaud! You will make two people happy.” —Samuel Goldwyn

93. “Curiosity is the key to creativity.” —Akio Morita

94. “Education is the ability to meet life’s situations.” —Dr. John G. Hibben

95. “Don’t underestimate the power of your dreams.” —Corinna Kong

96. “If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it.” —Ronnie Lott

97. “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” —Judy Garland

98. “Education is something we have to keep pursuing day after day.” —Premier Brian Gallant

99. “We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.” —Nelson Mandela

100. “Set your goals, take the action, live your dreams.” —Catherine Pulsifer

Next, check out these hope quotes and self-love quotes that will lift you up.

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Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.