110+ Best Inspirational Graduation Quotes for a New Time of Life [2020]

These graduation quotes are best to give a loved one or friend on graduation day or after a graduation ceremony. They are perfect for including in a graduation message or graduation card. Or simply texting to a loved one on this special day in their life.

It's best to remember that your friend, loved one, or spouse is experiencing a transition in their life. And these inspirational graduation quotes help to encourage them through this transition and period of change. Include these graduation sayings in a card, graduation gift, text message, or reading together face-to-face.

Inspirational Graduation Quotes

Below are inspirational quotes for recent college graduates. Some of these inspirational quotes come from a commencement speech (also referred to as a graduation speech) from a commencement speaker or a published book. These famous graduation quotes should be used to inspire a college graduate or used as graduation wishes inside a graduation card.

Our favorite inspirational graduation quotes

1. “In life, finding a voice is speaking and living the truth. Each of you is an original. Each of you has a distinctive voice. When you find it, your story will be told. You will be heard.” — John Grisham

2. “A teacher can kindle your mind and let you memorize information, but true education is often self-education.” — Debasish Mridha

3. "Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters." — Albert Einstein

Other inspirational graduation quotes for outgoing college students who need "a little inspiration" in life:

4. "Beauty has so many forms, and I think the most beautiful thing is confidence and loving yourself." — Kiesza

5. "For every good reason there is to lie, there is a better reason to tell the truth." — Bo Bennett

6. “Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.” — Neil Gaiman

graduation quotes

7. "The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters." — Audrey Hepburn

8. “One of the scariest things in our lives is actually doing what we know we want to do.” — Cheryl Strayed

9. “Convince yourself everyday that you are worthy of a good life. Let go of stress, breathe. Stay positive, all is well.” — Germany Kent

10. “When you find yourself at peace, you usually feel like you’re in control. Maybe sometimes being out of control leads you to that peace.” — Herself

11. “It is all I have lost, that has set me free.” — Bianca Sparacino

12. “A true education prepares you not only for living but also for life.” — Debasish Mridha

13. “In school, we learn to think alike, but true education is to learn how to think differently.” _ Debasish Mridha

14. “Your grades and degrees doesn't reflect your true education.” — Inu Etc

1. “To those of you graduates sitting out there who have a pretty good idea of what you’d like to do with your life: Congratulations. For many of you who maybe don’t have it all figured out, it’s okay. That’s the same chair that I sat in. Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result. Trust your gut, keep throwing darts at the dartboard, don’t listen to the critics, and you will figure it out. Class of 2017, I just want you to know you will never be alone on whatever path you may choose. If you do have a moment where you feel a little down, just think about the support you have from this great Trojan family. And imagine me — literally picture my face — singing this song gently into your ear.” — Will Ferrell

15. “When we graduate from school, we leave behind the only lives we have ever known, ones that have been neatly packaged in semester-sized chunks with goals nestled within. Suddenly, life opens up and the syllabi are gone.” — Meg Jay

16. “Every human is gifted and talented.” — Rebekah Neumann

17. “Speak your heart into existence. The world needs that kind of art.” — Bianca Sparacino

18. “When the world is quiet and you’re truly alone and with your mind, what do you think about? What do you hope for? Follow that.” — Bianca Sparacino

19. “Make your life art. Make it something you are proud of.” — Bianca Sparacino

graduation quotes

20. “When you make a commitment, you build hope. When you keep it, you build trust.” — Stephen M. R. Covey

21. “What are you going to do with the first day of the rest of your life?” — Elizabeth Abbott Rojas

22. “Great things are never easy.” — Vandal Savage

23. “I don’t believe in fate. I believe in choices.” — Ray Palmer

24. “You can’t change the things you did. But you can change what you become.” — Mick Rory

25. “If we have the power to change the world, don’t you think we have the power to change our own fate?” — Sara Lance

26. “Integrity, my friend, is the shield to greed and vanity.” — Del

27. “As long as we’re living and breathing, there’s more we can do. We just have to be strong enough.” — Jim Holden

28. “Don't ever forget that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world. It's the only thing that ever has.” — Aaron Sorkin

30. “Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art. I'm serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Did cat explode? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it's all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually, time will take the sting away, but that doesn't matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.” — Neil Gaiman

31. “You get to make your own luck. 80% of success in your career will come from just showing up. The world is run by those who show up, not those who wait to be asked.” — Steve Blank

32. “If you get a job by competing on price against 40-year-olds when you’re 22, then the turnabout, once you reach 40, is only fair play.” — Felix Salmon

graduation quotes

33. “Integrate what you believe into every single area of your life. Take your heart to work, and ask the most and best of everybody else too. Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth – don’t let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency.” — Meryl Streep

34. “So from the wise old pinnacle of my 49 years, I want to tell you that what you're looking for is already inside you. You've heard this before, but the holy thing inside you really is that which causes you to seek it. You can't buy it, lease it, rent it, date it or apply for it. The best job in the world can't give it to you.” — Anne Lammott

35. “Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, challenging, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.” — Paul Hawken

36. “My favorite animal is the turtle. The reason is that in order for the turtle to move, it has to stick its neck out. There are going to be times in your life when you’re going to have to stick your neck out. There will be challenges and instead of hiding in a shell, you have to go out and meet them.” — Ruth Westheimers

37. “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. 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. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” — Steve Jobs

38. “Know yourself and to your own self be true. You may find someday three or four years from now that you simply don't like engineering, or teaching, or architecture, or government, or the company you started with. You have little in common with the people you work with, and relative to your peers, you find your interest waning. At that point you have to muster whatever self-confidence you have, and every bit of your courage, and make the decision to do something else with your life. It is always better sooner than later to make that call.” — David L. Calhoun

39. “Let your mind wander in the pure and simple. Be one with the infinite. Let all things take their course.” — Lao Tzu

40. “Maybe we’ve got it all wrong. Maybe the right person isn’t the one who agrees with everything that we say or tells us tiny white lies to make us feel better about ourselves, but rather – the right person is the one who is brutally honest and raw.” — Ruby Dhal

41. “I hope you give yourself all the space and gentleness you need.” — Jacqueline Whitney

42. “Forward is forward. You’re taking steps every day to get to where you want to be, and it’s enough. No matter how fast or slow you go, you’re enough.” — Daniell Koepke

43. “I don’t know what the future holds but all I know is that there’s nothing you can’t do.” — Rania Naim

44. “Whatever people think of you is really about the image they have of you, and that image isn’t you.” — Don Miquel Ruiz

graduation quotes

Funny Graduation Quotes

These funny quotes are for grads who need to laugh about life. While some of these quotes aren't as "funny" as they are a good graduation message, it's best to provide to a grad who needs to be "picked up" and motivated while experiencing a graduation.

45. “If you’re going to have a story, have a big story.” — Joseph Campbell

46. “Got that piece of paper, ya dig?” — Simon James

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

48. “Create an entourage of heroes. Put their pictures on your wall, and keep them in your mind.” — David Brooks

49. “Who is in control of your mind? You are.” — Aubrey Marcus

50. “While you’re in your setback, life is preparing your comeback.” — Tim Storey

51. “You are still your most important audience of all.” — Sekou Andrews

graduation quotes

52. “Nothing better than complimenting someone and then watching them glow.” — Brandon Woelfel

53. “The only thing you should expect from money is a better hotel room.” — Brandon Steiner

54. “The first 90-seconds of your day determine the other 23 hours and 57.5 minutes of your day.” — Brandon Steiner

55. “How lucky are we? We create ourselves.” — Lulu Abundance

56. “Now please, go be who you dream of.” — Sammus

57. “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

High School Graduation Quotes

These quotes are perfect for high school graduates who need to be inspired to continue their education and pursue their passions in life.

58. “The future is a huge trigger for you. You hate when people ask you what your plans are for the next five years, and it will cause you to retreat. Graduating from high school and college for most people is very exciting, but for you, it can be incredibly daunting and scary. You hate when people talk about their own future because it makes you feel like you aren’t good enough.” — Lauren Jarvis-Gibson

59. “You should have big dreams, full dreams, not half dreams. You know, it's very simple. You can't put a large box in a small box. Well, you cannot put a full life in a small dream box. What you need is to have a box, a dream box, in a life that is as full as the potential you have today.” — Elias A. Zerhouni

60. “But I will tell you something very simple and obvious, which is that it is likely that human beings will find fulfillment and will be rewarded for the same qualities that they have been rewarded for 5,000 years. And that is intelligence, hard work, honesty, a sense of character, loyalty to family and friends, and above all love and faith.If you are trying to decide what you should do, those are the things you should do. And you know it. The difficult thing is acting on them. I leave you with that simple advice. If you are trying to figure out what to do in the future, for 5,000 years people have built statues to men and women who have had those characteristics.” — Fareed Zakaria

61. “Don’t spend so much time trying to choose the perfect opportunity, that you miss the right opportunity. Recognize that there will be failures, and acknowledge that there will be obstacles. But you will learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others, for there is very little learning in success.” — Michael Dell

62. “I had to be true to myself, as hard as that was and as scary as that was, you’ve got to listen to the voice in your gut. It is individual. It is unique. It is yours. It’s called being authentic. There’s only one of you and maybe you’re not going to follow the path that other people would like to put you on, but that’s okay. You’re going to find the path that’s right for you.” — Meredith Vieira

63. “So how do you know what is the right path to choose to get the result that you desire? And the honest answer is this. You won’t. And accepting that greatly eases the anxiety of your life experience.” — John Stewart

graduation quotes

64. “Follow your passion and your heart. You will need to find your passion. If you did not find it, you will find it later, in your 30s or 40s but do not give up on finding it and follow it. You will not find it in things or money because the more you have the more you will use that as a metric and would like to get more. The important things are those that fill you from inside. It will be grounded in people, in your relationship with people.” — Randy Pausch

65. “Every one of us has a calling. There is a reason why you are here. I know this for sure. And that reason is greater than any degree. It's greater than any paycheque. And it's greater than anything anybody can tell you that are you supposed to do. Your real job is to find out what the reason is and get about the business of doing it. Your calling isn't something that somebody can tell you about. It's what you feel. It's a part of your life force. It is the thing that gives you juice. The thing that are you supposed to do. And nobody can tell you what that is. You know it inside yourself.” — Oprah Winfrey

66. “You are our link to a new generation. You must reassess, re-examine, and clarify your priorities and not just be satisfied with the status quo. Whether you go into research, business, law, medicine, public service, or education, neither you nor society can continue to survive or prosper simply by implementing what is already known. Somebody is going to have to come up with meaningful new ideas, creative new approaches, and important new discoveries. Why can’t that somebody be you?” — Yvonne Thorton

College Graduation Quotes

College grads often feel burnt out after such a long period of time in education. Toward the end of "school days," it's best to provide the grad with an inspirational quote and sayings that can motivate them further in life.

67. “Being smart is not enough to achieve results. Plenty of smart people get beaten by others who are more hungry, take calculated risks, work harder, have better people skills, can execute better, or have more common sense. Recognize what you need in that total package to succeed.” — David Cote

68. “I do not wish you an easy path, because—trust me—you would be oh-so-quickly bored by that. You’d like it today and hate it tomorrow. Instead, I wish you a path filled with impediment and ambiguity and struggle and joy. With plenty of time to be alone, and then plenty of time to be with others, where you take what you learned in your solitude and apply it to the world like a cool hand on a feverish forehead. I hope that your path has as many twists and turns as it does straightaways. I hope that it is as rough and interesting as it is smooth and predictable. I hope that it satisfies you. I also hope that it astonishes you. And I hope that for all your life, your spirit grows.” — Julia Keller

69. “It's important to remind yourself that this is not a race. Do what you can do today. You will get to where you are going. Progress happens in layers.” — Audrey Kitching

70. “Creativity is not something you are, it’s something you do. You have to work at it. The mundane aspects of life will creep up on you constantly, whether they’re the pressures of work or the distractions of American Idol and Facebook. You’ve spent years in this program building great strengths in creative disciplines. You have to be vigilant to keep reviving that spirit.” — Tom Brinck

71. “There's a story about going to a class of young children and asking these young kids, "Who can write an opera? A symphony? Be a high ranking leader, a politician, an astronaut, a doctor, a president?"And what happens? The whole class, they put their hands up because they don't know what can't be done. They haven't learned that yet. It's all possible. Ask the same questions of that same class five years later, 10 years later, 20 years later, and what happens? The hands start going down. Why is that? Because they've been poisoned by this thing called "I can't." They think they already know what's not possible and that's the killer.I've always tried to be that little kid with his hand in the air. It really works to be that naïve, to really think you can do anything.” — Robert Rodriguez

72. “I have learned to go fully in the face of my dreams. I would recommend you do the same. Now is the time in your life to be selfish. To explore. To take chances. Remember being selfish is not the same as being self-indulgent. You have the gift of time. Use it to do what you love. Believe anything is possible and then work like hell to make it happen.” — Julianna Margulies

73. “The reason you came to college is you didn't know very much. Now you know a little more. But the challenge is to keep building on it. So try something completely different - I don't care, learn something trivial. Learn it well. Sing karaoke, if you dare. Learn to fix something in the house. Help out at a homeless shelter. Start a rock 'n' roll band. Practice a little daring. ” — Tony Snow

74. “I'm not telling you to make the world better, because I don't think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I'm just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment.” — Joan Didion

75. “Going after a dream has a price. It may mean abandoning our habits, it may make us go through hardships, or it may lead us to disappointment. But however costly, it is never as high as the price paid by people who live in his/her comfort zone.” — Paulo Coelho

76. “I thank all those who laughed at my dreams; you taught me to grow to respect other people's struggles.” — Paulo Coelho

77. “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.” — Robert Orben

78. “We were nostalgic for a time that wasn't yet over.” — Nina LaCour

79. “Coach said. "the quality of a man's life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field of endeavor".” — Sherman Alexie

80. “You won’t be able to do this ten years from now—just leave everything behind and go.” — Rachel Kapelke-Dale

81. “Let your only graduation be in the grave.” — Lailah Gifty Akita

82. “Everything's always ending. But everything's always beginning, too” — Patrick Ness

83. “But I made it. And for some reason, I’m not worried about my job prospects. I truly believe I will be okay.” — Katherine Reay

84. “To think that in such a place, I led such a life.” — Winston Churchill

85. “Be careful who you call crazy. Some of us think it's a compliment.” — Marilynn Dawson

86. “When you graduate from college, they tell you to follow your dreams. Does anyone say you have to wake up first?” — Bill Cosby

87. “On the first day of college, you will worry about how will you do inside the college? And on the last day of a college you will wonder what will you do outside the college?” — Amit Kalantri

88. “The memory of the sacred moment is unforgettable.” — Lailah Gifty Akita

89. “Success is the end product.” — Lailah Gifty Akita

90. “A university is a city of ideas, and we're grateful you became citizens of our city.” — Mary Karr

8th Grade Graduation Quotes

These quotes are perfect for 8th-grade graduations and those going into high school.

91. “When you have trouble making up your mind about something, tell yourself you’ll settle it by flipping a coin. But don’t go by how the coin flips; go by your emotional reaction to the coin flip. Are you happy or sad it came up heads or tails?” — David Brooks

92. “It’s not what happens to you. It’s what you do with what happens to you.” — Chris Waddell

93. “Do not give into this world and let the world set your measure of what is great; let the world set your standards. You have genius, you have greatness, you have glory, you have the power inside of you that must be unleashed into the community. Do not settle. Do not yield. You have a truth that must be told.” — Cory Booker

94. “You are our hope. So cherish this time in your life. Remember who you are. Because, right now, you have it all: The power of your imagination, the velocity of your dreams, the language of innocence, and the passion of a beginner. Don't lose it. Don't let it evaporate or get stripped away or worn away.” — Jessica Lange

95. “Be fearless. Have the courage to take risks. Go where there are no guarantees. Get out of your comfort zone, even if it means being uncomfortable. The road less traveled is sometimes fraught with barricades, bumps, and uncharted terrain. But it is on that road where your character is truly tested — and your personal growth realized." — Katie Couric

96. “A kid needs at least one person who never gives up on them, no matter what.” — Amos Burton

97. “No risk, no reward.” — Josephus Miller

Short Graduation Quotes

98. “A teacher can kindle your mind and let you memorize information, but true education is often self-education.” — Debasish Mridha

99. "Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters." — Albert Einstein

100. “Let your only graduation be in the grave.” — Lailah Gifty Akita

101. “Everything's always ending. But everything's always beginning, too” — Patrick Ness

102. “But I made it. And for some reason, I’m not worried about my job prospects. I truly believe I will be okay.” — Katherine Reay

103. “To think that in such a place, I led such a life.” — Winston Churchill

104. “Be careful who you call crazy. Some of us think it's a compliment.” — Marilynn Dawson

105. “The memory of the sacred moment is unforgettable.” — Lailah Gifty Akita

106. “Success is the end product.” — Lailah Gifty Akita

107. “While you’re in your setback, life is preparing your comeback.” — Tim Storey

108. “You are still your most important audience of all.” — Sekou Andrews

109. “Nothing better than complimenting someone and then watching them glow.” — Brandon Woelfel

110. “The only thing you should expect from money is a better hotel room.” — Brandon Steiner

111. “The first 90-seconds of your day determine the other 23 hours and 57.5 minutes of your day.” — Brandon Steiner

112. “How lucky are we? We create ourselves.” — Lulu Abundance

113. “Now please, go be who you dream of.” — Sammus

114. “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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