54 Best Graduation Songs to Celebrate Your Big Day

If you’re a future grad, a recent grad, or an alum of any kind – congratulations!

Graduating from any level of school is a huge accomplishment, and it is exciting to see your hard work come to fruition. These songs look at the bittersweet feelings of graduating and closing a chapter of your life. Leaving it behind is sure to be emotional whether you loved your experience or it was “just school.”

Let’s celebrate with the best graduation songs!


We Are Young – Fun ft. Janelle Monáe

With its instantly recognizable drum beat and addictive melodies, ‘We Are Young’ quickly became a classic of the 2010s. This song is a perfect one to close that chapter of your life with all about the chaos and wonders of youth. We can’t be forever young, and nothing’s quite like the burning teenage passion of a life waiting to be lived—”tonight, we are young, so let’s set the world on fire.”

Related: Check out more songs about youth.

Graduation (Friends Forever) – Vitamin C

This song is backed with a string section reminiscent of the classic song graduates walk to. It was written specifically about the feelings graduation brings up, so it’s essential to listen to it if you’re graduating. Vitamin C sings about the uncertainty friendships face in post-grad life. But, even as life changes, friends will remain, even if it’s just a memory: “as we go on, we remember, all the times we had together.”

Related: Learn about these songs about education.

Good Riddance – Green Day

This acoustic ballad features nostalgic-sounding guitar and strings and talks about accepting the end of a chapter in your life and welcoming the change that is to come. “Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road” will take you down a new path. It can be hard to say goodbye to the old path, but there is comfort in knowing whatever happens next is meant to happen.

Related: Listen to these songs about time passing.

Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield

Natasha Bedingfield celebrates life’s endless possibilities with her upbeat pop track ‘Unwritten.’ The rising melodies and passionate vocals add a wonderous and hopeful feel to the song, encouraging the listener not to fear the unknown. Not having a plan isn’t necessarily bad because you can say, “I’m undefined; I’m just beginning.”

Related: This song features on our playlist of destiny songs.

I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack and Sons of the Desert

A beautifully reflective song, this emotional ballad feels like a hug. As you grow up and move through life, Lee Ann Womack hopes you don’t lose your innocence. The monotony and difficulties of life do their best to strip you of your wonder, but Womack says, “I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,” to remind us of the lovely things in the world. Graduating offers a whole new step in a life filled with many scary changes, but “when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,” always dance.

Related: Feel at ease with this peace songs playlist.

Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds

Though this song is almost exclusively associated with the iconic movie The Breakfast Club, it can also stand alone as an emotional goodbye song. Leaving behind people and places makes you want to say, “don’t you forget about me.” These people were important to you, and you want to be important to them, hoping that you will stay in each other’s memories even as everyone moves on with their lives.

Related: You can also hear this song on the Breakfast Club soundtrack.

See You Again – Wiz Khalifa

Everyone’s lives begin to take a different shape after leaving school. This song follows two friends who may be on different journeys but know they will always return to each other. No matter what happens or where they go, they remain steady for each other, saying “it’s been a long day without you, my friend, and I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.”

Related: Here are some more tragedy songs.

Firework – Katy Perry

‘Firework’ is an explosive way to revel in your uniqueness as you complete one goal and prepare for others. Katy Perry inspires us to show our true talent and authentic selves to the world, singing, “baby, you’re a firework, come on, show ’em what you’re worth.” Don’t hold back because you have all the energy and beauty of an unstoppable firework.

Related: Hear more beautiful figurative language songs.

The Climb – Miley Cyrus

“I can almost see it, that dream I’m dreaming.” Miley Cyrus fears not being able to achieve her dreams, and many of us can relate. Graduating is a common dream, but that doesn’t make it easy. This song is a beautiful way to feel the weight of your accomplishments—you moved mountains and fought uphill battles to get that diploma, which is no small thing.

Related: Climb your way through our playlist of the best mountain songs.

I Will Remember You – Sarah McLachlan

This song offers emotional advice on how to move through life. You often hear about people getting stuck in high school or college, reliving those simpler times. Sarah Mclacklan says, “don’t let your life pass you by. Weep not for the memories.” There is no sense in reliving the past because you’ll miss the present. Instead, resolve to remember the good times and good people while still living your current life.

Related: Take a trip down memory lane with this memory songs playlist.

Here’s to the Night – Eve 6

This song seems to take place at some kind of going away party—it very well could be a graduation party. The narrator makes a toast, saying, “here’s to the nights we felt alive, here’s to the tears you knew you’d cry.” He’s grateful for the ups and downs he experienced with this person and welcomes the goodbye while being sure to hold the memories close.

Related: Say farewell with this playlist of goodbye songs.

Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey

This quintessential Journey song never gets old with its narrative lyrics and riveting instrumental sections. The song looks at human nature’s tendency to chase after dreams and feelings even if we don’t have a plan. There’s a charming innocence to dreaming, and Journey says, “don’t stop believin’ hold on to that feeling.”

Related: Gather your friends and enjoy this sing along songs playlist.

Breakaway – Kelly Clarkson

Breakaway,’ at its core, is about trying new things. It’s tackles that feeling of wanting to become a new person, to grow into the best version of yourself. Graduation is often a great opportunity to do that—people move to new places, do new things, and have to “take a risk, take a chance, make a change.”

Related: Prepare for a new life with this starting over songs playlist.

I’ll Be There for You – The Rembrandts

‘I’ll Be There For You’ is a friendship-filled song about sticking with the people you love throughout the chaos of life. Through heartbreak, financial struggles, and all of the nuances of life, you promise “I’ll be there for you.” This song is extra nostalgic because it’s the theme song for the sitcom Friends, a classic show about love and friendship.

Related: Celebrate your friendships with the best songs about friends.

Best Day of My Life – American Authors

This upbeat track from American Authors is filled with positivity and excitement about the future. ‘Best Day of My Life’ describes that feeling of being unstoppable. You “had a dream so big and loud,” and you know you’re about to achieve it. Nothing can break your mood, and you know it will be an incredible day.

Related: Don’t get stuck in the past! Check out these future songs.

Graduation – Benny Blanco and Juice WRLD

‘Graduation’ reflects on the past and looks to the future in a culmination of nostalgia and anticipation. Even though school may not have always been a great time, it still made up a huge part of your life. It’s time to move on, but not to forget the years that molded you. This track uses a line from Vitamic C’s graduation song to drive that point home: “as we go on, we remember all the times we spent together.”

You’re Gonna Miss This – Trace Adkins

‘You’re Gonna Miss This’ is a moving country ballad about the idea of people not knowing what they have until it’s gone. It’s pretty common when you’re young to look ahead to the future with impatience, not realizing that the present is just as important. This song reminds us that we’re allowed to enjoy it right now because we can’t be young forever—we don’t always have to want something better. Because, a few years from now, “you’re gonna miss this, you’re gonna want this back.”

I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas

A classic feel-good song of the 2010s, ‘I Gotta Feeling’ is full of celebratory hope. It’s upbeat, dancey, and ensures a perfect night. This song is practically made for a graduation goodbye party, singing “tonight’s the night, let’s live it up.” Your hard work has brought you to this “good, good night.”

Related: Cheer up with this happy songs playlist.

You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban

‘You Raise Me Up’ is a heartwarming song inspired by Josh Groban’s deep faith. Though the “you” of the song Groban had in mind was God, this song is moving even if you’re not religious. When you find someone (whether it’s through faith, love, or family) that supports you with unwavering commitment, it is a gift. Groban sings, “you raise me up to more than I can be,” to explain just how unbreakable he feels because of this support.

Related: Find this song on our list of songs about grandpa.

The Edge of Glory – Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga delivers a club beat and powerful belting in ‘The Edge of Glory.’ Getting close to that graduation date and preparing to walk the stage can feel like you are on the verge of something huge (and you are!). The perfect way to celebrate is by declaring “I’m on the edge of glory!”

We Are the Champions – Queen

The triumphant feelings this song inspires are unmatched. Celebrating any accomplishment with this song is appropriate, but it is especially applicable for graduation. Homework, research papers, and exams can feel like “sand kicked in [your] face,” but you still got through it. No matter the long nights and stressful weeks, you and your classmates can proudly say, “we are the champions of the world.”

Related: Hear this classic on our playlist of celebration songs.

School’s Out – Alice Cooper

This song is pretty much required listening on the last day of school—especially if it’s your last day of school ever: “school’s out for summer, school’s out forever!” It’s a cathartic song with a heavy beat, making it ideal for screaming along with when you are finally able to say “good riddance” to school.

Related: This song is on our list of songs from Dazed and Confused.

You Get What You Give – New Radicals

Uplifting piano and enthusiastic melodies make this song an inspiring one. New Radicals sing specifically to those with music in their soul, saying “don’t let go, you’ve got the music in you.” You’ve got the passion, you’ve got the heart, and you just have to remember to give out the energy that you want to receive.

Roar – Katy Perry

Step into post-grad life with confidence and courage with the help of ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry. Perry sings about overcoming her struggles with negative self-esteem in this catchy pop tune and how she learned to claim her innate power. Finishing school is a commendable achievement, and you can now proudly say, “I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar.”

Related: Feel confident with these songs about self-esteem.

End of the Road – Boyz II Men

The smooth sounds of this song add to its regretful emotion. It talks about a relationship that has ended, but the narrator doesn’t want to move on. They’ve “come to the end of the road” but there’s so much fear about where to go next. He wants to hold on to the comfort this person gave him, just as we want to hold on to the comforts of a life we are used to.

Related: Look ahead with these moving forward songs.

(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life – Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes

This song is most well-known for its appearance in the film Dirty Dancing, and it works to celebrate the climax of some experience or relationship. As school reaches its end, we can look back and say “I’ve had the time of my life” (although, some of us probably wouldn’t say that).

Related: Listen to more Dirty Dancing songs.

It’s Time – Imagine Dragons

‘It’s Time’ is a song about choosing not to wait any longer to chase after what you want. It creates this determined energy that makes you want to make positive changes in your life immediately. Sometimes, the next chapter of your life begins before you feel ready, leaving you to ask “it’s time to begin, isn’t it?”

Counting Stars – OneRepublic

‘Counting Stars’ is an addictive song due to its thrumming drums and snappy melodies. OneRepublic sings about letting go of society’s standards of happiness, which normally revolve around money. Instead, they resolve to find beauty in their loved ones and the world, saying, “no more counting dollars, we’ll be counting stars.”

Related: Find more great songs with star in the title.

Send Me on My Way – Rusted Root

You might recognize this song from Enterprise Rent-A-Car ads, or from memes about the occasionally unintelligible lyrics. This folksy Rusted Root song is filled with joy, a faultless piece of happiness through and through. It’s a song that’s ready for adventure, ready for anything life is willing to bring them—”send me on my way.”

Related: Brighten your day with this happy songs playlist.

Photograph – NickelbackOverview

Years after graduation, you will probably find some of the events and people from school have stuck with you. This song is all about looking back at little memories that ended up forming you into the person you are. Right now, school is where you’ve spent the majority of your life. But down the road, you’ll say, “this is where I went to school. Most of the time, had better things to do.”

My Last Semester – The Wonder Years

This alternative rock song is about academic burnout—something pervasive and frustrating for most students. The narrator is tired of the excessive work and the awful classmates, and just doesn’t want to be there anymore. He doesn’t fit in and wants to get out, but has a resigned determination to finish his degree, saying “it’s two more months ’til I’m done with this.”

Related: Doze off while you listen to these songs about being tired.

Don’t Blink – Kenny Chesney

Life moves fast, and years seem to pass in the blink of an eye. This country track is a vulnerable one, as Kenney Chesney talks about the realization of how much of life has passed him by. He warns people that they have to start living in the moment, because “when your hourglass runs out of sand, you can’t flip it over and start again.”

Related: Head over to our list of living in the moment songs.

How Far We’ve Come – Matchbox Twenty

Matchbox Twenty sings about an apocalypse in this song, and if you think about it, graduating can feel like the end of the world too. At least, the end of the world as you know it. “It all is coming to an end” and you are facing a life that looks completely different from everything you’ve previously known. But don’t let the panic consume you—instead, “let’s see how far we’ve come” and how much further we can go.

Related: Graduating isn’t the end of the world, but here are the best songs about the apocalypse.

Moment 4 Life – Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj’s melodic rapping style makes this song a great one to sing along to. In ‘Moment 4 Life’ Minaj drinks in her success and all it took to achieve it. She feels so content and wants to feel that way forever, singing, “I wish that I could have this moment for life.” The awareness that you are in a moment you’ll remember forever is a weird—but amazing—feeling, and this song does a great job of capturing it.

Sing – My Chemical Romance

In this song, My Chemical Romance wants their listeners to “sing” to everyone—to the people they loved, those they hated, and the strangers they’ll never know. Singing is a good way to release the tension you might not even know you’re holding. Life is a lot, and the problems and responsibilities it brings makes it hard sometimes, but “you got to see what tomorrow brings.”

All My Friends – LCD Soundsystem

The disjointed piano and invigorating instrumentational build in the first minute of the song make for a song that feels monumental. ‘All My Friends’ is about a last hurrah, a party that could end up being the last for this group of friends. And even though they might be making some questionable choices to have fun, they say “I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision for another five years of life.”

I Can – Nas

‘I Can’ puts hip-hop elements over Beethoven’s ‘Für Elise.’ It’s an unexpected combination, but it really works to create a unique listening experience. Nas raps about the misleading people of the world and encourages listeners to beware of the things that could lead them astray. He thinks it’s important to stay true to your personal dreams despite whatever is happening around you, saying “I know I can be what I wanna be”

Started From the Bottom – Drake

Drake looks back at the hardships he had to overcome in life to get where he is now. This song is full of pride in personal accomplishment, saying “started from the bottom, now we’re here.” Sometimes it’s important not to be humble—it’s okay to be amazed by what you’ve been able to do.

Related: If you feel like you’re on top, enjoy this list of underdog songs.

History – One Direction

If you’re getting ready to graduate, you’re also probably reflecting on all the years it took to get there. The friends, the teachers, and the fun (if somewhat cringey) school spirit. It can create a lot of nostalgia, and sadness that you’re leaving it all behind. “History” reminds us that moving on doesn’t mean forgetting the connections we made and good times we had: “you and me got a whole lot of history, so don’t let it go.”

For Good – Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel

‘For Good’ is a song from the Wicked soundtrack, sung during the goodbye between Glinda and Elphaba. This goodbye is filled with unpredictability over if the pair will ever see each other again. Even if they don’t have a future, they know their past together has changed them for good. It’s a beautiful sentiment about how people have the power to better you: “let me say before we part, so much of me is made of what I learned from you.”

Never Grow Up – Taylor Swift

A tear-jerking song about growing up and leaving your family behind, Taylor Swift sings to her younger self, telling her she should “never grow up.” The line “here I am in my new apartment in a big city, they just dropped me off” will really hit home for graduating students facing a new life of independence. Even though it’s exciting, sometimes it’s easier to be taken care of, and it’s hard to reconcile that you’ll never have that simplicity again.

Related: If you like this song, you’ll love our Taylor Swift playlist.

Goodbye to You – Michelle Branch

‘Goodbye to You’ is about letting go of a toxic relationship, which is pretty applicable to graduating. Education is a great opportunity, but it also causes a ton of stress. So for a lot of people, it’s probably a relief to finally be able to say to your school “goodbye to you.”

Related: Listen to our playlist of toxic relationships songs.

100 Years – Five For Fighting

This piano ballad is a reminder to be present. Each stage of your life is an important one, because you only have so many years. In your youth “there’s still time for you” to realize how important it is to appreciate what you have before it’s gone. Take it all in, because graduation will bring about significant change.

Related: If you’re retiring from education, listen to these retiring songs.

Who Says – Selena Gomez and The Scene

Insecurity! An inescapable feeling that comes with any big change. Leaving behind the routine of school and having to step into an unstructered world of jobs and new people is scary, and can bring up a lot of anxieties about not being good enough. But Selena Gomez is here to comfort you, singing “you’ve got every right to a beautiful life” because anyone who says you’re not perfect has it wrong.

Related: Pump yourself up with these songs about self confidence.

Fly – Hilary Duff

Hilary Duff lights a fire with ‘Fly,’ a song about opening your wings and letting go of the things holding you back. “For a minute, all the world can wait,” for a second, your fears don’t matter. It’s time to commit to what you want and realize you are the only thing in your way.

Keep Holding On – Avril Lavigne

As the day of graduation inches closer, it can start to feel more and more taxing. You know you’re close, but fear you won’t ever get there. This song is about finding a shared comfort and determination in your friends: together you can “keep holding on ’cause you know we’ll make it through.”

Related: Hear similar songs on our staying together songs playlist.

Life is a Highway – Rascal Flatts

Arguably the best song from the Cars soundtrack, ‘Life Is A Highway’ is an exhilarating anthem about taking control of life. “Life is a highway, I wanna ride it all night long” sing the Rascal Flatts, inspiring an acceptance over life being long and unpredictable. Yet, it’s a magical thing to go on the ride of life (especially while listening to this song).

Related: Travel to our playlist of traveling songs.

I Was Here – Beyoncé

Everyone wants to make a mark one way or another. It’s a weird feeling to leave school behind—where you spent so much time and effort—knowing that in a few years, there might be no trace of you there. Beyoncé sings about this feeling, and how she wants to be remembered. She wants people to know “I was here” and that she mattered.

A Moment Like This – Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson was the first person to win American Idol, and this song shows the emotional impact it had on her. With her powerful vocals and a backing choir, she sings “I can’t believe it’s happening to me.” Even though the song seems to be about love, the awestruck and grateful feelings could be applied to any unimaginable experience.

Related: Say thank you with the best thankful songs.

Congratulations – Post Malone ft. Quavo

This celebratory track is heard in the background of graduation posts every year. It’s full of pride and disbelief that you’ve finally achieved what you worked so hard for. You “worked so hard, forgot how to vacation,” and even the people who didn’t believe in you are now forced to say “congratulations.”

We’re All in This Together – High School Musical Film Cast

The finale song sung in High School Musical is the perfect song to describe classmates coming together and getting through the school year. Not to mention the sentimental feelings it will surely cause in all Disney kids. “Here and now, it’s time for celebration,” time to have some fun and revisit your childhood as you enter adulthood.

Tongue Tied – Grouplove

A hallmark of indie rock, ‘Tongue Tied’ is an invigorating song that just inspires feelings of youth. It has the inexplicable quality that makes you feel nostalgic for reasons you can’t explain. You just want to hold on to your present, telling the people around you, “don’t take me tongue-tied, don’t wave no goodbye.”

Run the World (Girls) – Beyoncé

If you’re a girl who’s graduating, it’s safe to say that this song has the power to make you feel on top of the world. With all your achievements and all of your potential, Beyoncé celebrates you with this iconic track. It’s a song about being proud and confident, and that is a perfect headspace to be in when you consider the huge step of graduation.

Related: Hear this song on our playlist of the best songs about girls.

Goodbye – Spice Girls

When you graduate, you have to say goodbye to people you might never see again. Those casual class friends might not last beyond the walls of your school, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t important. This song is a goodbye to those people and a hello to the rest of the world. “Look for the rainbow in every storm,” because every goodbye is bittersweet.

Photo of author

About Ged Richardson

Ged Richardson is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ZingInstruments.com. He has been featured in Entrepreneur, PremierGuitar, Hallmark, Wanderlust, CreativeLive, and other major publications. As an avid music fan, he spends his time researching and writing about new and old music, as well as testing and reviewing music-related products. He's played guitar in various bands, from rock to gypsy jazz. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel, where he geeks out about his favorite bands.

Read more