Graduation is an incredibly important time for a University student. After years of hard work, late nights, and gruelling assignments and exams, it’s finally all paying off.

Their graduation doesn’t just signify a culmination of blood, sweat, tears and triumphs, but also the beginning of a graduate’s exciting pathway toward achieving their career goals.

Being such a big event, you may be feeling a little bit of pressure to find the right words to say, be it on a card, in a toast, a speech or just directly to the graduate. Luckily for you, there have been plenty of great wordsmiths throughout time who have penned the perfect graduation quotes and sayings, which we’ve compiled here.

This list has something for everyone; whether you want to make them laugh with a funny graduation quote, impart some words of wisdom with some inspirational graduation quotes, or find something specific that works as a parent speaking to their son or daughter.

Have a browse through and make sure you get your heartfelt (or hilarious) message across right to the lucky university graduate.


graduation students throwing mortar board

Funny Graduation Quotes

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

“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

“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.” - Bette Reese

“If at first, you don't succeed, try to hide your astonishment.” - Harry Banks

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

“Rule Number 1: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule Number 2: It’s all small stuff.” - Robert Eliot

“Graduation: a ritual event where they award you a diploma, in the hope that you have learned enough to be able to read it.” - unknown

graduation students making a funny face

“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

“You'll find out that nothing that comes easy is worth a dime. As a matter of fact, I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face. Never.” - Woody Hayes

“Just remember, you can't climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger

“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

graduation student giving speech

Inspirational Graduation Quotes

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” - Dr. Seuss

“Do not make your goal to be the best. ‘Best’ is a label. It’s something someone else decides for you. ‘Better’ is more personal.” - Baryshnikov

“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

“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

“And 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

success quote on chalkboard

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

“That diploma you hold in your hands today is really just your learner’s permit for the rest of the drive through life. Remember, you don’t have to be smarter than the next person, all you have to do is be willing to work harder than the next person.” - Jimmy Lovine

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you're doing, but what you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself.” - Alan Alda

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

“As you start your journey, the first thing you should do is throw away that store-bought map and begin to draw your own.” - Michael Dell

“Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning.” - Senator Orrin Hatch

mum and dad with daughter for graduation

Graduation Quotes for Son/Daughter

“Graduation day is tough for adults. They go to the ceremony as parents. They come home as contemporaries. After twenty-two years of child-raising, they are unemployed.” - Erma Bombeck

“Make your parents happy, your enemies jealous, and yourself happy.” - The Weeknd

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

“Your families are extremely proud of you. You can’t imagine the sense of relief they are experiencing. This would be a most opportune time to ask for money.” - Gary Bolding

“I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” - Jim Carrey

“Kid, you’ll move mountains.” - Dr. Seuss

overhead shot of graduation students

Whatever words you choose to impart upon the University graduate, they’ll be sure to know how proud you are of them and their accomplishments. As special as it is for you as a loved one, friend, or relative of the graduate, it’s even more special for them. That’s why it’s so important to do everything possible to make the day memorable, right down to ensuring they’re dressed to impress.

George H Lilley offers premium quality, Australian-made graduation gowns that will have the graduate looking sharp on their big day - be sure to check them out!