What To Write In A Graduation Card

Send graduates into their next chapter with a message of heartfelt congratulations.

Graduates tossing caps into the air
Photo: Paul Bradbury

Summer is hot on spring's heels, and that means one thing: It's graduation season. And that means graduation gifts. As with any present, Southerners know that every graduation gift should also come with a handwritten note. Here are three guiding rules to keep in mind as you pen congratulatory messages to the graduates, whether they're finishing middle school or medical school, plus 10 one-liners if you don't know where to start.

At the end of the day, the cardinal rule of what to write in a graduation card is true for any other kind of note: No amount of flowery language can conceal insincerity. So if you're stuck on what to say or where to start, stick to short, sweet, simple, and sincere. You'll never go wrong.

Happy young woman on her graduation day.
Prostock-Studio / Getty Images

Inspiring Messages For A Graduation Card

  • "You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will." ― Stephen King
  • “Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don't let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory.” ― Jim Carrey
  • There are two types of education. One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live. ― John Adams
  • “Know what sparks the light in you. Then use that light to illuminate the world.” — Oprah Winfrey
  • Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. — Nelson Mandela
african american college graduate

Quotes For The Adventurous Graduate

Advice From Literary Greats

  • Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art. — Maya Angelou
  • The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. — Jon Krakauer
  • Education is not filling a pail, but lighting a fire. — William Butler Yeats
  • You cannot help but learn more as you take the world into your hands. Take it up reverently, for it is an old piece of clay, with millions of thumbprints on it. — John Updike

Input From Risk Takers

  • When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself. — Jacques Cousteau
  • We are more fulfilled when we are involved in something bigger than ourselves. — John Glenn
  • The greatest artists like Dylan, Picasso, and Newton, risked failure. And if we want to be great, we've got to risk it, too. — Steve Jobs
  • If you cultivate something in your mind, you give it a life. It's really that simple. — Laird Hamilton
Graduates hugging
Tom Merton / Getty Images

Sincere Phrases For The Graduate

  • "You did it! We are so thrilled for you."
  • "Showering you in well wishes as you take on this next chapter!"
  • "The world is a brighter, better place because you're in it. Congratulations, graduate!"
  • "Congratulations on your graduation. We can't wait to watch you soar."
Writing a Letter
Writing a Letter. Sasha Bell / Getty Images

Best Wishes To The Graduate

  • "Congratulations on your graduation! We are so proud of you and all you have accomplished."
  • "The big day is finally here. Congratulations! It's time to celebrate your hard work."
  • "Congratulations on your graduation! ______ (Fill in their intended school, college, or workplace, if you know it) is so lucky to have you."
  • "Your future is bright, and we are rooting for you all the way!"
  • "No matter how far you go, you'll always have a home here with us. Congratulations, and best of luck."
  • "If the last four years have been any indication, we know you'll find much success in your next adventure. Congratulations!"
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