17 Inspiring Quotes That High School Grads Can Totally Appreciate

It's that time of year again. The caps and gowns have been ordered, the plans for next year are set... what words of wisdom can you impart? Whether you are writing a card for a graduate who is close to you or getting ready to make a speech at the ceremony or a private party, sometimes there's a quote that expresses exactly what you want to convey. If you can't quite put your feelings into words, don't stress as I've compiled a list of motivational quotes for high school graduation that will tug at the heartstrings of everyone listening.

A good quote makes the grad feel like they can do anything. It empowers them and makes them believe it's all is possible. You can talk about focus, magic, persistence, dreams... It's about believing in themselves and knowing the future is theirs for the taking.

As graduation approaches, the students are really pumped to get out of school, but they are also really open and eager for advice. This is your chance to throw a little wisdom their way, so use it carefully. Search for quotes that will grab their attention and inspire them. You may find just the perfect one that speaks to you and is spot on for the feels you want the grad to have on their big day.


"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain." - Vivian Greene

Life will be full of storms. Many high school kids have had pretty smooth lives, but there will be bumps along the way now that they're entering adulthood. It's good for them to realize this and to stay positive during negative times.


"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel." - Steve Furtick

This is one of the greatest pieces of advice you can give your high school graduate. When they get to college, they may not adjust as quickly and comfortably as they had hoped, which will make them feel worse when everyone else seems to be having the best time on Instagram and Snapchat, filled with parties and new best friends and exciting experiences. This quote tells the kids not to believe the hype.


"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

Sales of Dr. Seuss's Oh The Places You'll Go seem to spike every year around graduation. Pearls of wisdom hidden in silly rhymes, this whole book is a hopeful message about the future.


"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

Ellen's positivity is one of her most endearing traits. She mixes this one with a reality check. It's okay to dream, but do what you need to do to survive when necessary.


"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.” - J.K. Rowling

The story of J. K. Rowling's path to fame is in itself a fabulous message. She was a nearly-broke, single mom when she wrote Harry Potter and after many rejections, the novel finally found a home. It's a great lesson in persistence and believing in your own magic.


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

Most of the graduates and many of their parents won't remember New York City mayor Ed Koch, but he was a spirited, larger than life figure back in the day. He was mayor for most of the '80s and used to ride the subway and greet the NYC residents with a, "How am I doing?" This quote from Koch reminds those grads of their dynamic potential.


"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the most beloved first ladies and went on to become a successful author after her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt died. Eleanor and FDR guided the country through the Great Depression and saw a lot of people find the beauty of their dreams.


"One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals." - Michelle Obama

While we're on a First Lady run, here's one from Michelle Obama. This one is about staying focused, another admirable trait of the truly successful.


"Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." - Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe's tennis triumphs include winning three Grand Slam tournaments. His mom died when he was seven and he was raised by his dad, who was a handyman and caretaker for the recreation department in his town. Knowing this humble beginning gives his quote even greater depth.


"Your imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions." - Albert Einstein

If you can dream it, you can do it. On the cusp of adulthood, you need to believe that anything you want to do, you can do.


"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life." - Steve Jobs

Jobs was 56 when he died from pancreatic cancer. As one of the founders of Apple, we have him to thank for our iPhones as well as this inspirational quote.


"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." - C.S. Lewis

Setting goals as a high school senior is important but continuing to do it as you age and grow is just as crucial.


"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

As football player Joe Theismann said, "It's nice to be important, but it's important to be nice." Achievement doesn't mean a whole lot if you're a jerk while you do it. The world would be a better place if everyone was striving for kindness.


Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people or find a different room." Michael Dell

It feels great to be the big fish in the small pond, but it's better to find a pond where there are others to learn from.


“Your life is your story, and the adventure ahead of you is the journey to fulfill your own purpose and potential.” —Kerry Washington

A high school senior is a blank journal (blank Word document, blank digital tape — pick your analogy) and they are poised and ready for their pages to be filled.


"Always believe you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think." - Christopher Robin

Winnie the Pooh's best friend gave him this advice and it's a great one to dig out when they are feeling a little down. This one can also inspire grads to find that one friend who believes in them.


"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

Graduation time is a lot of lasts and it can be scary and sad to leave all of the people you grew up with. Don't focus on what you are leaving, but take joy in the fact that you have something wonderful to leave.