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10 funny graduation quotes to celebrate commencements

As eager high school and college seniors don mortarboard caps and glossy gowns for their parades across commencement podiums, families and friends seek memorable comments to enclose with graduation greetings, gifts, gift cards, and other mementos. What funny graduation quotes might be cited on such a celebratory occasion?

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Here are some favorite commencement quips, arranged alphabetically by speaker (or writer).

“A professor is someone who talks in someone else's sleep.”
W.H.Auden (1907 – 1973)

W.H. Auden, the prolific British poet with the Saharan wit, aimed this graduation quote at college and university faculty. Still, his statement might ring true among high school graduates as well. As students reflect on their academic careers, this statement would surely bring both fond and soporific memories. After all, what graduating senior hasn’t dozed off in Medieval Literature, Neoclassical Philosophy or Advanced Calculus class?

"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door."
 Milton Berle (1908 – 2002)

Milton Berle, fondly known as “Mister Television” and “Uncle Miltie,” was a mainstay of early television, particularly in the 1950s. Berle somewhat sardonically stated a solid truth of self-made success. Opportunity does not always arrive unprompted. Instead, as his graduation quotation points out, young adults may have to carve out their own paths after commencement.

“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 (1927 – 1996)

A beloved American humorist, Erma Bombeck faithfully offered comic relief on practical topics, particularly parenting. In this graduation quote, Bombeck points to mothers and fathers of graduates. As young adults embark upon life after schooling, parents may find their own roles changing dramatically. Hopefully, their graduating offspring will soon be transformed from dependents to independent adults. If this occurs, these young adults will become employed, thus working their parents out of a job (as parents).

“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 (1946 -      )

As the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush clearly knows firsthand what it takes to aspire to the highest political office in America. Bush, known to many as “Dubya,” has always enjoyed poking fun at himself. This graduation quotation, uttered during a 2001 commencement address at Yale University (his own alma mater), satirizes the oft-told American dream promise that any child in American has the potential to grow up to become President.

Johnny Carson, the former late-night talk show host, put his own spin on this. “Democracy means that anyone can grow up to be President, and anyone who doesn't grow up can be Vice President," he said.

President Bush humorously affirmed Yale graduates with his congratulations for the highest achievers and his encouragement of the more average students. Still, at a highly competitive school like Yale, is anyone really an average student?

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

Sir Winston Churchill was a British statesman and prime minister, who led Great Britain and the globe through World War II. Churchill’s statement on success is an ideal graduation quotation, while also somewhat comical. Graduating students often seem to sense their own unlimited potential, as they embark on professional life after completing their schooling. Still, failures and setbacks are inevitable, eventually Churchill makes light of failures, in a sense, while pointing out how true achievement comes through maintaining personal motivation through such times.

“Education is what remains when one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Albert Einstein, the renowned 20th Century German physicist, is credited with developing the theory of relativity. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921. This Einstein quote is humorous, but also appropriate for graduates, as it brings the lofty ideals of education down to earth.

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 (1858 – 1919)

Teddy Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States. The Nobel Peace Prize winner, known for “speaking softly and carrying a big stick,” was widely respected worldwide for diplomacy, leadership and conservationism. In this graduation quote, Roosevelt satirically highlighted the power of an education. According to Roosevelt, an individual with training and schooling may carve out a more powerful professional position than one without. Still, the quipping President tinged this truth with the possibility that even a quality education may not dictate true human values and integrity.

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. 
Garry Trudeau (1948 -      )

This American cartoonist and playwright, best known for his Doonesbury comic strip, received the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for editorial cartooning. Trudeau’s humorous commencement comment implies that commencement speakers generally bore audiences with platitudes and philosophizing. By doing so, New Yorker Trudeau insists (in his graduation quote), such orators basically anesthetize their listeners. Trudeau graduated from Yale University with a bachelor of arts (BA) and a master of fine arts (MFA), so he has had personal experience in lengthy commencement speeches.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

Mark Twain (actually Samuel L. Clemens) once shocked academics with his fictional work and his slang vocabulary, in particular. Twain’s declaration contrasts schooling and education. This graduation quote is both pithy and humorous, as it contains an important truth about lifelong learning. For a true student, education does not end with graduation. Inquisitive minds seek learning constantly, both in and out of school.

The tassel's worth the hassle! 

This graduation quote, which appears on everything from tee shirts to bumper stickers to commencement party invitations, comes from an unknown author. Still, it merits mention, even for its memorability.

Ask any graduating senior, from kindergarten to college, what it took to get to the commencement ceremony. Such a question may unleash a lengthy monologue about academic assignments, class participation, and extra effort. The tassel (a graduate’s keepsake from the mortarboard commencement cap), is well worth the hard work and headaches that preceded the momentous occasion of graduation. At the same time, these festivities may merit a healthy dose of good humor as well.

Title graphic adapted from public domain image.
Quiz results artwork – from online quiz (fair use)

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Sometimes a simple career-choosing quiz can offer interesting results.

Job hunters and strategic careerists occasionally shell out plenty for questionnaires, surveys, and other tools that are aimed at helping them identify potential suitable careers. Students and recent graduates frequently take such tests too. Questions usually focus on abilities, education, experiences, interests, and training. The process may be simple and speedy, or it may prove quite complex.

Certainly, there’s no harm in trying out a career survey or dream job questionnaire. Several free ones are available online, and even these may help individuals evaluate possible professional pursuits.

Just for fun, I took Blogthings’ Quick and DirtyCareer Test online. My time investment was maybe one minute, as the process included four short, easy multiple-choice questions. Here’s what my results said:

Gotta admit it: I’m chuckling a bit over this one.

  • Archaeologist? Sure, I participated in an archaeological dig as a teen. I found it somewhat fascinating to uncover old pot shards and even some ancient bones.
  • Astronomer? Um, not exactly my strongest suit in school.
  • Book editor? Bingo!
  • Business manager? Does self-employment count? I’m not big on paperwork, but I get it done. Still, I’d never let my accountant go.
  • Civil engineer? Who are we kidding?
  • Designer? I guess it depends on what’s being designed. I’ve dabbled in graphic design, fashion design, and even interior design. Mechanical or software design – not so much. Not at all!
  • Economist? What did I just say about my accountant’s perpetual job security?
  • Inventor? Not gonna touch this one.
  • Judge? Pretty sure I’d drop the gavel.
  • Scientist? Doubtful. My M.S. degree is in journalism, not chemistry or biology.

Looking for new career options? This little free quiz might be worth a moment’s glance, even just for kicks. If you do try it out, c'mon back and tell us what you discovered (and whether you thought the results hit the mark ... or not).

Title graphic adapted from public domain image.
Quiz results artwork – from online quiz (fair use)

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16 afternoon pick-me-ups to boost on-the-job energy

The afternoon slump hits scores of workers sometime after lunch, most often between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., while they have several hours to go before punching out for the day. It’s a little like the famous “wall” marathoners talk about, when the vim and vigor seem to evaporate suddenly and the finish line feels all too far away.

Still at work, we can experience drowsiness, battle lethargy, grow increasingly distracted, or even nod off a bit during this daily energy drop. We’re not lazy; we’ve just run out of steam for a bit. Popular wisdom blames blood sugar drops, human circadian rhythms, ongoing sleep issues, and excessive workload. Maybe or maybe not. Whatever the reason, the afternoon slump is a dragon to be slain daily.

Adapted from public domain artwork.

Try these 16 practical tips to boost on-the-job energy during the post-lunch lapse.

    1. Halt the hangovers. Could last night’s revelry lead to today’s lethargy?
    2. Step away from stresses. Are personal issues dragging you down?
    3. Skip the sugars. Do you tend to load up on simple carbohydrates at lunch?
    4. Rehydrate regularly. Guzzle a water, and see what happens. (Coffee and tea don’t count.)
    5. Catch some caffeine. How about an afternoon cola, tea, or coffee?
    6. Pick a piece of protein. A hunk of cheese or a handful of nuts might do the trick.
    7. Crunch a bit of chocolate. This isn’t license for a giant sugar binge, but an energy-boosting snack, like granola or a square of dark chocolate might help.
    8. Grab some gum. Chewing some gum can get your wheels turning again too.
    9. Get up and stretch. Walk it off. Fitness specialists advise everyone to get up and move at least hourly during the workday. Maybe they’re onto something.
    10. Interact for an instant. Instead of zipping of another text message or email, why not deliver it personally?
    11. Step into the sun. There’s something energizing about sunshine, or even bright lighting.
    12. Get some fresh air. If you can, step outside for a moment. Breathe deeply. Open a window, if that’s the best you can do right now.
    13.  Start up a soundtrack. Got headphones? Crank up some peppy tunes, and watch your energy levels rise.
    14. Save the most mundane tasks for morning. Plan your most boring tasks for your hours of better focus and energy, whenever possible.
    15. Catch 40 winks. A tiny catnap can be an energy bonus, when it works. Maybe that’s why plenty of traveling sales reps find quiet places to park and rest for a few minutes each afternoon.
    16. Aim for extra sleep for a few nights. Sometimes this has to be a deliberate decision, or it simply won’t happen.

A little advance planning (and preparation), coupled with some on-the-spot self-awareness, can put some pep into a person’s step in that mid-afternoon valley of sluggishness.

Adapted from public domain image.

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