Home » Blog » Quotes and Captions » Inspirational Graduation Quotes

Inspirational Graduation Quotes

Here’s a collection of inspirational graduation quotes for yearbooks, graduation cards, Facebook, speeches, and more.

The inspirational graduation quotes come from historical figures, writers, celebrities, noted scholars, and elected officials.

Read great quotes like Ralph Waldo Emerson’s, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path, and leave a trail.”

Best Inspirational Graduation Quotes

1.) There are two types of education. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.
John Adams

2.) Spread joy. Chase your wildest dreams.
Patch Adams

3.) I learned law so well the day I graduated I sued the college, won the case, and got my tuition back.
Fred Allen

See our collection of Graduation Wishes.

Best inspirational graduation quotes.

4.) I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou

5.) The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.

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

Funny Graduation Quotes

7.) Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what will happen next, and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.
Steve Colbert

8.) If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.

9.) If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.
Milton Berle

10.) 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

11.) 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

Check out these inspiring, uplifting quotes.

Nelson Mandela quote on education being a powerful weapon.

Words of Wisdom for Grads

12.) 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 other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
Steve Jobs

13.) Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.
Barack Obama

14.) Real leadership comes from the quiet nudging of an inner voice. It comes from realizing that the time has come to move beyond waiting to doing.
Madeleine Albright

15.) Real courage is holding on to a still voice in your head that says, ‘I must keep going.’ It’s that voice that says nothing is a failure if it is not final. That voice that says to you, ‘Get out of bed. Keep going. I will not quit.’
Cory Booker

Check out: Congratulations Graduation Messages

Uplifting Sayings

16.) 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

17.) Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
Winston Churchill

18.) To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight – and never stop fighting.
E.E. Cummings

19.) Do all the other things, the ambitious things—travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes…but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.
George Saunders

20.) The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change. 
Maya Angelou

Motivating Words

21.) The best-helping hand that you will ever receive is the one at the end of your own arm.
Fred Dehner

22.) The important thing is this: to be able to give up in any given moment all that we are for what we can become.

23.) The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Albert Einstein

24.) 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.
Susan B. Anthony

e.e. cummings' quotation on taking courage to become who you really are.

Short Graduation Quotes

25.) Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

26.) Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
Les Brown

27.) Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

28.) It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
E.E. Cummings

29.) You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Wayne Gretzky

30.) If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.
Vince Lombardi

Inspirational Graduation Quotes for Son

31.) It takes most men five years to recover from a college education and to learn that poetry is as vital to thinking as knowledge.
Brooks Atkinson

32.) Keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final.
Roger Babson

33.) In the game of life, when the final buzzer sounds, the only stat you carry with you is the number of assists you made. So help other people put some points on the board.
NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg

34.) An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.
Benjamin Franklin

Brother’s Graduation

35.) The things taught in schools and colleges are not an education but the means of education.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

36.) There is just one life for each of us: our own.

37.) Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.
Henry Ford

38.) The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar instead of how little he can give for a dollar is bound to succeed.
Henry Ford

39.) In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later.
Harold Geneen

Motivational Sayings for Grads

40.) Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.
Arnold H. Glasow

41.) If you feel that you have both feet planted on level ground, then the university has failed you.
Robert Goheen

42.) And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.
Dr. Seuss – More Graduation Quotes from Dr. Seuss

43.) You will find true success and happiness if you have only one goal. There really is only one, and that is this: To fulfill the highest, most truthful expression of yourself as a human being. You want to max out your humanity by using your energy to lift yourself up, your family, and the people around you.
Oprah Winfrey

44.) What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

For Friends

45.) The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.
Sydney J. Harris

46.) The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.
Nelson Henderson

47.) Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.
Napoleon Hill

48.) It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
Edmund Hillary

49.) I believe in the principle that I can make a difference in this world. It may be ever so small, but it will count for the greater good.
Gordon B. Hinckley

Yes, but do you have pictures? We sure do. Check out Graduation Images and Memes.

For the Graduate

50.) The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse.
Edward Koch

51.) The best of all things is to learn. Money can be lost or stolen, health and strength may fail, but what you have committed to your mind is yours forever.
Louis L’Amour

52.) The trouble with learning from experience is that you never graduate.
Doug Larson

53.) Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.
Art Linkletter

54.) My dear terrified graduates, you are about to enter the most uncertain and thrilling period of your lives. The stories you are about to live are the ones you will be telling your children, grandchildren, and therapists.
Lin-Manuel Miranda

To Daughter

55.) Of course, there’s a lot of knowledge in universities: the freshmen bring a little in; the seniors don’t take much away, so knowledge sort of accumulates.
A. Lawrence Lowell

56.) If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!
Andy McIntyre

57.) To the uneducated, an A is just three sticks.
A.A. Milne

58.) The most rewarding things in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.
Arnold Palmer

59.) The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Eleanor Roosevelt

60.) There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
Beverly Sills

61.) Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.
JK Rowling

For Sister

62.) The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.
Ralph W. Sockman

63.) I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
Mark Twain

64.) It is indeed ironic that we spend our school days yearning to graduate and our remaining days waxing nostalgic about our school days.
Isabel Waxman

65.) Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frighten us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Marianne Williamson

NOTE: Inspirational graduation quotes are frequently found in commencement addresses but also in books and magazine features.

Encouraging Words for Grads

66.) Success is only meaningful and enjoyable if it feels like your own.
Michelle Obama

67.) To give any less than your best is to sacrifice a gift.
Steve Prefontaine

68.) Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.
Malcolm X

69.) You can never be overdressed or over-educated.
Oscar Wilde

70.) Your life is your adventure. And the adventure ahead of you is a journey to fulfill your own purpose and potential.
Kerry Washington

71.) Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.
Martin Luther King Jr.

72.) Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.
Nelson Mandela

73.) There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.
C.S. Lewis

74.) This path does not belong to your parents, your teachers, your leaders, or your lovers. Your path is your character defining itself more and more every day, like a photograph coming into focus.
Jodie Foster

You might like our Funny Graduating Quotations.

Moving Graduation Quotes

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

76.) Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.
Nora Ephron

77.) You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.
Tom Brokaw

78.) Life is my college. May I graduate well and earn some honors.
Louisa May Alcott

79.) Now, the first suggestion is to aim high but be aware that even before you have reached your ultimate professional destination, if you always strive for excellence, you can and should have a substantial impact on the world in which you live.
Sandra Day O’Connor

80.) Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.
Albert Einstein

81.) The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.
B.B. King

82.) Instruction ends in the schoolroom, but education ends only with life.
Frederick W. Robertson

83.) Life is an improvisation. You have no ideas what’s going to happen next, and you are mostly making things up as you go along.
Stephen Colbert

Positive Graduation Quotes

84.) Go make your big beautiful dent, and as you do so, come down on the side of boldness. If you err, may it be for too much audacity and not too little. For you really are enough. You have untold strengths and resources inside. You have your glorious self.
Sue Monk Kidd

85.) We do not need magic to change the world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.
J. K. Rowling

86.) There are no regrets in life — just lessons.
Jennifer Aniston

87.) It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.
J.K. Rowling

High School Graduation Quotes

88.) We may live in an age of instant messaging, instant gratification, and Instagram, but there is no way to short-circuit the path to success. It takes hard work, tenacity, and patience.
Tory Burch

89.) In response to those who say stop dreaming and face reality, I say keep dreaming and make a reality.
Kristian Kan

90.) Don’t be afraid of fear. Because it sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger, and when you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self.
Ed Helms

Einstein quote on the importance of questioning.

Insightful Quotes for College Graduates

91.) You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.
Arnold Schwarzenegger

92.) Success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it… Err in the direction of kindness.
George Saunders

93.) Always be the first-rate version of yourself instead of the second-rate version of somebody else.
Judy Garland

94.) The unfortunate yet truly exciting thing about your life is that there is no core curriculum. The entire place is an elective.
Jon Stewart

95.) Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for you being here. Make good art.
Neil Gaiman

Wise Words

95.) Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.
Mark Twain

96.) You may not always have a comfortable life, and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.
Michelle Obama

97.) Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in.
Hillary Clinton

98.) Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.
Henry Ford

99.) Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
Bobby Kennedy

100.) Understand that one day you will have the power to make a difference, so use it well.
Mindy Kaling

Ideas welcome

If you have ideas for inspirational graduation quotes, inspirational graduation quotes for friends, inspirational graduation quotes for sisters, inspirational graduation quotes for brothers, or inspirational graduation quotes from parents, please let us know.

By Mike O’Halloran

Mike is an author and founder of Greeting Card Poet.


You’re on the Inspirational Graduation Quotes page.

You might like:

Card Messages for Graduates

Graduation Sayings

College Graduation Quotes

High School Graduation Quotes