Culture

131 Graduation Quotes That Are Legit Inspiring

“You will screw it up sometimes.” — Taylor Swift

Finding the right graduation quote can be a tedious process. After four years of hard work, you want to commemorate this special moment with the right words. Something that defines who you are and sets the tone for the future. The truth of the matter is, it takes lots of blood, sweat, tears, and ramen to make it to graduation—especially after nearly two years of remote learning.

But, the day has finally come for you to don your hard-earned graduation robes, decorate your cap, and rewatch your favorite graduation movies to get excited for the big day. Bear your tassel proudly, and find the right motto for graduation Instagrams, of course. Hey, you didn’t work this hard in school just to post a captionless photo, right?

From inspirational quotes from Taylor Swift to Ariana Grande’s words of wisdom, we rounded up the best graduation quotes from celebrities, athletes, politicians, writers, cartoon characters and more. These thoughtful bits of advice are perfect to include in graduation cards, a commencement speech, or even to use for inspirational senior quotes in your yearbook. The choice is yours! Read on to discover 130 best graduation quotes.

In this article:

High school graduation quotes

Funny graduation quotes

College graduation quotes

Inspirational graduation quotes

Proud graduation quotes

Short graduation quotes

Graduation quotes for Instagram

High school graduation quotes

  1. "Your life is your adventure. And the adventure ahead of you is a journey to fulfill your own purpose and potential." —Kerry Washington
  2. “If you can do what you do best and be happy, you are further along in life than most people.” —Leonardo DiCaprio
  3. "Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world." —Nelson Mandela
  4. "Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead." —Nora Ephron
  5. "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
  6. "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
  7. "You don’t go to university so you can punch a clock. You go to university so you can be in a position to make a difference." —Janet Napolitano
  8. "Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today." —Malcolm X
  9. "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
  10. "Fight for what makes you optimistic about the world. Find it, insist on it, dig into it, go after it." —Jennifer Garner
  11. "Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education." —Martin Luther King Jr.
  12. "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
  13. "If I must give any of you advice it would be say yes. Say yes, and create your own destiny." —Maya Rudolph
  14. "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
  15. "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
  16. "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
  17. "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." —Neil Gaiman
  18. "When you respect the idea that you are sharing the Earth with other humans, and when you lead with your nice foot forward, you’ll win, every time. It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow, but it comes back to you when you need it." —Kristen Bell
  19. "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have you, you will never, ever have enough." —Oprah
  20. "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." —Muhammad Ali
  21. "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
  22. "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
  23. "Some life lessons don’t ever change. They need to be highlighted and they need to be remembered throughout our entire lives. But how you embrace them will distinguish you from the pack." —Brooke Shields
  24. "You and you alone are the only person who can live the life that writes the story that you were meant to tell." — Kerry Washington
  25. "Be the hardest working person you know. Because if you’re not, someone else will be." —Ian Brennan
  26. "In response to those who say to stop dreaming and face reality, I say keep dreaming and make reality." —Kristian Kan
  27. "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
  28. 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
  29. "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
  30. "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
  31. "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
  32. "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

Funny graduation quotes

  1. "We're only here for so long. Be happy, man. You could get hit by a truck tomorrow." —​Timothée Chalamet​
  2. “Don’t allow people to dim your shine because they are blinded. Tell them to put on sunglasses.” —Lady Gaga
  3. "Get busy living or get busy dying." —Stephen King
  4. "You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets." —Arnold Schwarzenegger
  5. "If you aren't going all the way, why go at all?" —Joe Namath
  6. "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." —Wayne Gretzky
  7. "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
  8. "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." —Thomas Edison
  9. "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
  10. "Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there." —Will Rogers
  11. "The road to success is always under construction." —Lily Tomlin
  12. "You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." —Robin Williams
  13. "Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor." —Jackson Browne

College graduation quotes

  1. “Success is nothing if you don’t have the right people to share it with; you’re just going to end up lonely.” —Selena Gomez
  2. "The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away." —Joy J. Golliver
  3. "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
  4. "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
  5. "You can’t do it alone. Be open to collaboration. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you. Spend a lot of time with them and it will change your life." — Amy Poehler
  6. "When we show up, act boldly, and practice the best ways to be wrong, we fail forward. No matter where we end up, we’ve grown from where we began." —Stacey Abrams
  7. "I celebrate you as you remember the power of grace and pride, and I challenge you to choose freedom over fear." —Janelle Monáe
  8. "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself." —John Dewey
  9. "You could travel with the sheep, follow everybody else’s stuff, but then you’re not you. I guess if I want to say anything it’s ‘Be you.’ Be true to you, and that should make the ride a little more interesting." — Whoopi Goldberg
  10. "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
  11. "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
  12. "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
  13. "As you graduate, as you deal with your excitement and your doubts today, I urge you to try and create the world you want to live in. Minister to the world in a way that can change it. Minister radically in a real, active, practical, get your hands dirty way." —Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  14. "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." —Henry David Thoreau
  15. "The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change." —Maya Angelou
  16. "There is nothing more beautiful than finding your course as you believe you bob aimlessly in the current. Wouldn’t you know that your path was there all along, waiting for you to knock, waiting for you to become. 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 everyday like a photograph coming into focus." —Jodie Foster
  17. "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
  18. "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
  19. "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

Inspirational graduation quotes

  1. “We are all deserving and we don’t need permission or an invitation to exist and to step into our power.” —Ilhan Omar
  2. “Your self worth is determined by you. You don’t have to depend on someone telling you who you are.” —Beyoncé
  3. "No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind." —Taylor Swift
  4. "There’s something so special about a woman who dominates in a man’s world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness, and the nerve to never take no for an answer." —Rihanna
  5. "Understand that one day you will have the power to make a difference, so use it well." —Mindy Kaling
  6. "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
  7. "It's amazing what you can get if you quietly, clearly and authoritatively demand it." —Meryl Streep
  8. "It's the choice. You have to wake up every day and say 'There's no reason today can't be the best day of my life.'" —Blake Lively
  9. "I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." —Michael Jordan
  10. "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
  11. "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 Westheimer
  12. "There is no passion to be found in playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." —Nelson Mandela
  13. "When someone who loves you hugs you, hug them back with two arms—don’t do the one-arm hug, because when you hug someone with two arms, it allows you to lean on somebody, and we all need someone to lean on." — Sandra Bullock
  14. "Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of success. —Bo Bennett
  15. "You can never be the best. The only thing you can be the best at is developing yourself." — Natalie Portman
  16. "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
  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. "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us." —Ralph Waldo Emerson
  19. "When people tell you not to believe in your dreams, and they say 'Why?' say 'Why not?'" —Billie Jean King
  20. "I encourage you to live with life. Be courageous, adventurous. Give us a tomorrow, more than we deserve." —Maya Angelou
  21. "There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction." — Oprah Winfrey
  22. "I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." —Thomas Jefferson

Proud graduation quotes

  1. “Every day is a new opportunity to change your life and be who you want to be.” —Demi Lovato
  2. "Don't be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered." —Michelle Obama
  3. "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
  4. “Don’t ever doubt yourselves or waste a second of your life. It’s too short and you’re too special.” —Ariana Grande
  5. "Ignore the naysayers. Really the only option is: head down and focus on the job." —Chris Pine
  6. "Success is only meaningful and enjoyable if it feels like your own." —Michelle Obama
  7. "The best remedy for those who are frightened, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be alone with the sky, nature, and God. For only then can you feel that everything is as it should be and that God wants people to be happy amid nature’s beauty and simplicity." —Anne Frank
  8. "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." —E. E. Cummings
  9. "I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself." —Emma Stone
  10. "You don’t have to be famous. You just have to make your mother and father proud of you, and you already have." —Meryl Streep
  11. "In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love." —Mother Teresa
  12. “So often in life things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great good fortune.” —Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  13. “It never hurts to keep looking for sunshine.” —Eeyore

Short graduation quotes

  1. "Change takes courage." —Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
  2. "You're never a loser until you quit trying." —Mike Ditka
  3. "Your imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions." —Albert Einstein
  4. “Work so hard that you never have to introduce yourself.” —Gigi Hadid
  5. "It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up." —Babe Ruth
  6. "There are no regrets in life — just lessons." —Jennifer Aniston
  7. "Stay hungry. Stay foolish." —Steven Jobs
  8. "A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman." —Melinda Gates
  9. "You get in life what you have the courage to ask for." —Oprah Winfrey
  10. "To give any less than your best is to sacrifice a gift." —Steve Prefontaine
  11. "Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity." —Will Smith
  12. "Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement." —Matt Bondi
  13. "If you can’t outplay them, outwork them." —Ben Hogan
  14. "This above all: To thine own self be true." —William Shakespeare
  15. "Do. Or do not. There is no try." —Yoda
  16. "Be bold, be courageous, be your best." –Gabrielle Giffords
  17. "It is absolutely still possible to make a difference." —Michelle Obama

Graduation quotes for Instagram

  1. "It is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate." —George Burns
  2. “There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like you.” —Ariana Grande
  3. "All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." —Walt Disney
  4. “Started from the bottom, now we’re here.” —Drake
  5. "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." —Eleanor Roosevelt
  6. "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." —Sun Tzu
  7. "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." —Arthur Ashe
  8. "She turned her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans." —Kobi Yamada
  9. "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." —C.S. Lewis
  10. "You can never be overdressed or overeducated." —Oscar Wilde
  11. "Nothing is impossible. The word itself says 'I'm possible.'" —Audrey Hepburn
  12. "A champion is someone who gets up when he can't." —Jack Dempsey
  13. “Don’t you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can’t be exactly who you are.” —Lady Gaga
  14. “Be kind to yourself a little more every day.” —Dua Lipa
  15. “You will screw it up sometimes.” — Taylor Swift

Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: Taylor Swift’s Grad Speech: “You Will Screw It Up”

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