Graduation, whether it’s from high school or a college commencement, is not only a time to reflect on the past while planning ahead for the future, it’s a time to celebrate accomplishments and find inspiration for life beyond the big day.
More than 3 million students are projected to graduate high school this year, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) projects 1.6 million additional graduates will receive bachelor’s degree diplomas as the college Class of 2014. Plus, there are even more students graduating with master, doctorate and law degrees.
In other words, that’s a lot of cap and gowns.
While graduation signals a time to plan for the future, whether it’s more school, a break or entering a new life, commencement is also a time to celebrate accomplishments and reflect. Whether you’re embarking on the next chapter post college or high school, here are 28 quotes to share for graduation or to include in a commencement speech by inspirational scholars, celebrities and leaders.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” –Nelson Mandela
“There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction." -Oprah Winfrey, Harvard Commencement 2013
“We can do not great things, only small things with great love.” –Mother Teresa
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” –Winston Churchill
“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” –Christopher Reeve
“The world is more malleable than you think and it's waiting for you to hammer it into shape." -Bono, University of Pennsylvania Commencement 2004
“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old; they grow old because they stop pursing dreams.” –Gabriel Garcia Marquez
“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” –Yoko Ono
"Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you. But someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it's quite true. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life." -Steve Jobs, Stanford University Commencement 2005
“Nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. Fall forward. Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.”
“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” –Steve Jobs
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” -Henry David Thoreau
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” -Mark Twain
“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
“People will frighten you about a graduation…. They use words you don’t hear often: And we wish you Godspeed.” It is a warning, Godspeed. It means you are no longer welcome here at these prices.” -Bill Cosby
“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
“The important thing is not to stop questioning.” -Albert Einstein
“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” -Aristotle
“There are two types of education. One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.” -John Adams
“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
“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” -Albert Einstein
“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 the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain
“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.” -JK Rowling
“It is clear the future holds great opportunities. It also holds pitfalls. The trick will be to avoid the pitfalls, seize the opportunities, and get back home by six o’clock.” -Woody Allen
“A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.” -Theodore Roosevelt
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” -Dr. Seuss
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught.” -Oscar Wilde