101 BEST Graduation Quotes to Inspire Your Grad

Quotes to inspire, encourage, motivate and even make your grad laugh

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: 101 BEST Graduation Quotes to Inspire Your Grad / Post updated 2/2024

Written by: Morgan Hill

If you’re thinking to yourself, “How did we get here so fast?” you’re not alone! One minute you’re dropping your timid toddler off at preschool and the next you’re about to watch your big kid graduate from high school. 

It’s a magical day, for sure, but if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, it’s also very emotional. (Sniff, sniff!) With one foot still lingering in their childhood and the other moving forth into the world, it can stir up so many feelings and emotions for us parents – from sheer excitement and pride to apprehensive and yes… even sadness, knowing this chapter of our babies’ lives is coming to an end.

With everything you’re feeling, you may be at a loss for just the right words (or graduation quotes) to comfort, encourage and motivate your grad. But fear not!

Many great quotes have already been spoken. So, whether you’re looking for something to write in their yearbook, on a card, or just when you’re talking one-on-one with them, we’ve got you covered. Here are 101 graduation quotes to inspire your graduate!

101 BEST Graduation Quotes to Inspire Your Grad


1. “You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.” ~Rosalynn Smith Carter, Former First Lady

2. “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

3. “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” ~Benjamin Franklin

4. “Take pride in how far you’ve come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey.” ~Michael Josephson

5. “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.” ~Arie Pencovici

6. “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” ~Confucius

7. “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

8. “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” ~Lao-Tze

9. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” ~Henry David Thoreau

10. You have to dance a little bit before you step out into the world each day because it changes the way you walk.” ~Sandra Bullock

11. “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.” ~William Arthur Ward


12. “Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door.” ~Kyle Chandler

13. “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” ~Babe Ruth

14. “The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs . . . one step at a time.” ~Joe Girard

15. “Dream big and dare to fail.” ~Norman Vaughan

16. “I am here to tell you that whatever you think your dream is now, it will probably change. And that’s okay.” ~Conan O’Brien

17. “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

18. “The most important thing in your life is to live your life with integrity and to not give into peer pressure to try to be something that you’re not.” ~Ellen DeGeneres

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

20. “Keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final.” ~Roger Babson


21. “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

22. “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

23. “Nobody else is paying as much attention to your failures as you are . . . to everyone else, it’s just a blip on the radar screen, so just move on.” ~Jerry Zucker

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

25. You are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what’s going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say ‘yes.’ And if you’re lucky, you’ll find people who will say ‘yes’ back.” ~Stephen Colbert

26. “Every accomplishment starts with the desire to try.” ~John F. Kennedy

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

28. “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” ~Abraham Lincoln

29. “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.

30. “Your imagination is your preview to life’s coming attractions.” ~Albert Einstein


31. “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible.’” ~Audrey Hepburn

32. “If you can do what you do best and be happy, you are further along in life than most people.” ~Leonardo DiCaprio

33. “Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.” ~Nora Ephron

34. “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

35. “I’ve learned it’s important not to limit yourself. You can do whatever you really love to do, no matter what it is.” ~Ryan Gosling

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

37. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” ~Steve Jobs

38. “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 Winfrey

39. “It is often easier to make progress on mega-ambitious dreams. I know that sounds completely nuts. But, since no one else is crazy enough to do it, you have little competition.” ~Larry Page

40. “It’s your turn to choose and define what success means to you. Now, others will try to define it for you, but yours is the only voice that matters.” ~Octavia Spencer


41. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~Mark Twain

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

43. “Take your risks now. As you grow older, you become more fearful and less flexible … Try to keep your mind open to possibilities and your mouth closed on matters that you don’t know about. Limit your ‘always’ and your ‘nevers.’ Continue to share your heart with people even if it’s been broken.” ~Amy Poehler

44. “No job or task is too small or beneath you. If you want to get ahead, volunteer to do the things no one else wants to do and do it better.” ~Bobbi Brown

45. “So, I say to you, forget about the fast lane. If you really want to fly, just harness your power to your passion. Honor your calling. Everybody has one. Trust your heart and success will come to you.” ~Oprah Winfrey

46. “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.” ~Tory Burch

47. “Fight for what makes you optimistic about the world. Find it, insist on it, dig into it, go after it.” ~Jennifer Garner

48. “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

49. “Your self-worth is determined by you. You don’t have to depend on someone telling you who you are.” ~Beyoncé

50. “No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.” ~Taylor Swift

51. “I’m continually trying to make choices that put me out of my own comfort zone. As long as you’re uncomfortable it means you’re growing.” ~Ashton Kutcher

52. “It’s the choice you have to wake up every single day and say, ‘There’s no reason today can’t be the best day of my life.'” ~Blake Lively


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

54. “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

55. “When people tell you not to believe in your dreams, and they say ‘Why?’ say ‘Why not?'” ~Billie Jean King

56. “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” ~Thomas Jefferson

57. “Every day is a new opportunity to change your life and be who you want to be.” ~Demi Lovato

58. “Success is only meaningful and enjoyable if it feels like your own.” Michelle Obama

59. “It never hurts to keep looking for sunshine.” ~Eeyore

60. “You’re never a loser until you quit trying.” ~Mike Ditka

61. “We are all deserving, and we don’t need permission or an invitation to exist and to step into our power.” ~Ilhan Omar

62. “Remember this: You are awesome. I’m not suggesting you be boastful. No one likes that in men or women. But I am suggesting that believing in yourself is the first necessary step to coming even close to achieving your potential.” ~Sheryl Sandberg


63. “Learn from every mistake because every experience, encounter, and particularly your mistakes are there to teach you and force you into being more who you are. And then figure out what is the next right move. And the key to life is to develop an internal moral, emotional G.P.S. that can tell you which way to go.” ~Oprah Winfrey

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

65. “There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like you.” ~Ariana Grande

66. “Everything’s always ending. But everything’s always beginning, too.” ~ Patrick Ness

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

68.  “No, the sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning.” ~Donovan Livingston

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

70. “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.” ~Anatole France

71. “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” ~Francis Bacon

72. “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” ~William Shakespeare


73. “You’re going to fall down, but the world doesn’t care how many times you fall down, as long as it’s one fewer than the number of times you get back up.” ~Aaron Sorkin

74. “Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.” ~John Maxwe

75. “There may be days when you’ll say to yourself, ‘I can’t. I literally can’t even.’ But you can! You can even!” ~ Katie Couric

76. “So many of our dreams first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” ~Christopher Reeve

77. “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ~A.A. Milne

78. “Intelligence without ambition is like a bird without wings.” ~Salvador Dali

79.  “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” ~Lupita Nyong’o

80. “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” ~B.B. King

81. “Struggling to decide what to do after graduation is, and always will be, a sort of rite of passage to the next phase of your life.” ~Gloria Davidson

82. “Before you act, listen. Before you react, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you criticize, wait. Before you quit, try. “ ~William Arthur Ward


83. “The road to success is always under construction.”  ~Lily Tomlin

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

85. “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” ~Fred DiVito

86. “If you want to be the best, you have to do things other people aren’t willing to.” ~Michael Phelps

87. “You already have everything inside of you right now, today.” ~Alicia Keys

88. “When you have a dream, you’ve got to grab it and never let it go.” ~Carol Burnett

89. “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving goals.” ~Zig Ziglar

90. “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” ~Malcolm X


91. “If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” ~Nora Roberts

92. “All of our dreams can come true…if we have the courage to pursue them.” ~Walt Disney

93. “Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.” ~Ella Fitzgerald

94. “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” ~Omar Khyaam

95. There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” ~Derek Jeter

96. “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” ~Yoda

97. “I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known.” ~Unknown

98. “Set out each day believing in your dreams. Know without a doubt that you were made for great things.” ~Josh Hinds

99. “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” ~Jim Rohn

100. “Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.” ~Shonda Rhimes

101. “Look out world, here comes someone ready to rock it.” ~Unknown

We hope you found a few graduation quotes to inspire your teen AND you! Congratulations class of 2024!

If you enjoyed reading, “101 BEST Graduation Quotes to Inspire Your Grad” you might also enjoy reading these posts!

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Gracious Grad Manners: 6 Things Every Graduate Should Do at Their Graduation Party

Are there any graduation quotes we missed? Share your favorite graduation quotes in the comments section below! 

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