The Quote Garden ™
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Quotations for Graduations
and Advice for Graduates
A graduation ceremony is where the commencement speaker tells 2000 students dressed in identical caps and gowns that individuality is the key to success. ~Robert Orben, 2400 Jokes to Brighten Your Speeches, 1984
I leave you love... I leave you hope... I leave you faith. ~Mary McLeod Bethune (1875–1955)
The tassel's worth the hassle! ~Author unknown
Just about a month from today I'm set adrift, with a diploma for a sail and lots of nerve for oars. ~Richard Halliburton, 1921
Friends and fellow students, we will not say to you that graduation is not the end but only an incident in life, that we shall be only one day older and wiser when the next sun rises, for you who have passed through it know this without telling... Students, keep your eye still fixed upon the day, work honestly for it, it is worth striving for. There is gold of wisdom ahead of you to be had for the digging, there are flowers of delight which may be yours for the plucking; and whether you find the gold or gather the flowers depends upon you. ~Louise E. Hollister, 1883
Graduation is not the end of education, as many seem to think, but the beginning. The world lies before you in exuberant fruitfulness — reach out for its delights. ~C. E. Babb, 1895 [a little altered —tg]
I need hardly remind you... that graduation is not the end of your study. It is, as you know, only the beginning of it. You have learned how to study, now it is most important that you continue in this most valuable work... ~John Fulton, 1910
Don't live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable. ~Wendy Wasserstein, unverified
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!...
~Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!, 1990
All that stands between the college graduate and the top of the ladder is the ladder. ~Middlebury Blue Baboon, 1927
Still, I should like to remind you at the end of it all, that success on an occasion of this kind, valuable and important as it is, is in reality only putting the foot upon one rung of the ladder which leads upwards; and that the rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man's foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher. I trust that you will all regard these successes as simply reminders that your next business is, having enjoyed the success of the day, no longer to look at that success, but to look forward to the next difficulty that is to be conquered. ~Thomas Henry Huxley, "On Medical Education," speech, 1870
Put your future in good hands — your own. ~Mark Victor Hansen, Future Diary, 1980
The best helping hand you will ever find is at the end of your own arm. ~Author unknown, c. 1940s
Actually, wearing those heavy black graduation gowns on a hot June afternoon is ideal preparation for the real world. It gets them used to sweating. ~Robert Orben, 2400 Jokes to Brighten Your Speeches, 1984
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, unverified
The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse. ~Edward Koch, unverified
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, Once Around the Sun, 1951
The chief function of the graduation speaker has always been to ensure that the graduating seniors are not released into the real world until they have been properly sedated. ~Garry Trudeau, 1991
Summing up, 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, "My Speech To the Graduates," 1979
In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later. ~Harold Geneen
If you hear this message
Wherever you stand
I'm calling every woman
Calling every man
We're the generation
We can't afford to wait
The future started yesterday
And we're already late
~J. Stephens, K. Prather, M. Bryant, and D. Harris, "If You're Out There," 2008, performed by John Legend ♫
The man who graduates... today and stops learning tomorrow is uneducated the day after. ~Newton D. Baker, c. 1934
Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. ~Oscar Wilde, "The Critic as Artist," Intentions, 1891
The things taught in schools & colleges are not an education but the means of education. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1831
If at first you don't succeed, do it like your mother told you. ~Author unknown, c. 1960s
If at first you don't succeed, call it version 1.0. ~Author unknown, c. 1990s
If at first you do succeed, try, try not to be insufferable. ~Franklin P. Jones, c. 1977
If you feel that you have both feet planted on level ground, then the university has failed you. ~Robert Goheen
You cannot but learn more of the world's heft, as you take it now into your hands. Take it up reverently, for it is an old piece of clay, with millions of thumbprints on it. ~John Updike, 1993
Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude. ~Ralph Marston, unverified
Hitch your wagon to a star. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1862
Life is my college. May I graduate well, and earn some honors! ~Louisa May Alcott, 1859
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.
~Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!, 1990
Love truth and fear not —
Do good and be happy.
~Simeon Carter (1824–1911), Poems and Aphorisms: A Woodman's Musings, 1893
Give thanks for what you are now, and keep fighting for what you want to be tomorrow. ~Fernanda Miramontes-Landeros, November 2009 winner of The Quote Garden create your own quote contest on Twitter, @quotegarden
You've got a lot of choices. If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you're not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice. ~Steven D. Woodhull, "Tuition," 1999
I think owning your burdens is half the battle. ~Scrubs, "My Catalyst," 2004, written by Bill Lawrence [S3, E12, J.D.]
Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty. ~Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse: Dune, 1985 (The Coda)
1. Don't be afraid to say No.
2. Don't be afraid to say Yes.
~Dr. SunWolf, @WordWhispers, tweet, 2017, professorsunwolf.com
The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice that which we are for what we could become. ~Charles Du Bos, Approximations, 1922, translated from French
As for me, I always assumed growing up happened automatically as you got older, but it's really something you have to choose to do. ~Scrubs, "My Inconvenient Truth," 2007, written by Debra Fordham [S7, E3, J.D.]
It's better to fight for something than against something. ~Author unknown
Wake up, do your best, sleep, repeat. ~Thingsweforget.blogspot.com, 2011
The only disability in life is a bad attitude. ~Scott Hamilton
We all have a path to take; sometimes it's hidden under the weeds, so you might have to work a little. ~Mike Dolan, @HawaiianLife, tweet, 2009
Occasionally ask, "What is the connection between what I want most in life and anything I plan to do today?" ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
You can't go back and make a new start, but you can start right now and make a brand new ending. ~James R. Sherman [quoteinvestigator.com]
We were a happy little party that day — the day I "graduated" — as we drove back to our country home. Graduated! What did it mean? How much was there in me? I had illusions — very many. And I was happy — for surely now something worth-while must happen... and the whole of life was yet to be lived. I felt that way. I sought not the prize; I only loved the race. Achievement meant little to me. ~George A. Dorsey, Young Low, 1917
The greatest joy in a goal achieved
Is sharing the moment with one who believed.
~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
College is a great experience and exposes you to a lot of things you might not otherwise learn or experience. You learn to evaluate things, think for yourself, and become a more independent person. Even if you decide not to use your specific degree, college can never be a waste of money if you get something important out of it. Your degree is like money in the bank; it opens up a lot of opportunities for you. ~Steven D. Woodhull, "Tuition," 1999
"Where are you going, my pretty maid?"
"I'm going to conquer the world," she said.
"I've three mighty weapons on which to rely:
My smile, my diploma, my mischievous eye;
Now, shouldn't I have the whole world at my feet?"
The world answers: "Yes, for they're wonderf'ly neat."
Diplomas are lost or forgotten, you know,
As time presses on, but a smile — never so!
Nor a mischievous eye — these are weapons, in truth,
That will conquer all hearts, and the world too, forsooth.
~W. Dayton Wegefarth (1885–1973), "Commencement Day," Rainbow Verse: A Book of Helpful Sunny Philosophy, 1919
If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again. ~Flavia Marie Register Weedn (1929–2015), Flavia and the Dream Maker, 1988, flaviastore.archivea.com
Every day has a little bit of beauty and a little bit of chaos. ~Tanisha, @burlappearlsandboots, Instagram post, 2017
I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Wind-Wafted Wild Flowers," in The Open Court, August 1903
At the end of college a diploma is handed to us and the dark waters of what we don't know surge over our heads... From the dozens of paths which lead out from the acropolis of the college we choose and without quite knowing why we take it — It is like a jump off a diving board, in the first confusion and strangeness of the world under water... Education can only be proven a success if it enables you to strike out under your own power and swim. ~Althea Warren (1886–1958)
It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves. ~Edmund Hillary, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1993
Your life, it lies before you
Like a path of driven snow.
Be careful how you tread it
For every step will show.
~Author unknown, c. 1940s
Find something you love to do and you'll never have to work a day in your life. ~Author unknown [Or, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." Credit: quoteinvestigator.com —tg]
The secret to happiness in your work is to find a job in which your neurosis is constructive. ~Jeanne LaMont, M.D.
Never stop pedaling to power your dreams. ~Terri Guillemets
published 1998 Mar 18
revised 2021 May 23
last saved 2022 Aug 20