Graduation speeches that make your degree seem worth it

Yes, you too Geography…

Every year thousands of UK students leave University without the inspiration and guidance that a good graduation speech can provide. 

Graduation speeches mean every year thousands of graduates enter the work place believing they can follow their hearts, dare to dream, and grab life by the horns.

The goal is to inspire people. The fact they might end up cleaning toilets in McDonald’s is purely coincidental.

Jim Carrey at Maharishi University of Management

Jim Carrey’s ability to be hilarious, creative and emotional at the same time make his graduation speech for Maharishi University one of the best of all time. Most grad speeches are made up of 10% insight and 90% filler, but here Jim Carrey gives graduand 26 minutes of solid gold Carreyness, which is just brilliant.

J.K. Rowling at Harvard

The Harry Potter jokes alone would get J.K. Rowling a place on the list, but her sentimental stories on the benefits of failure and her haunting references to one of her earliest day jobs at Amnesty International make her speech eye opening, touching and inspirational.

Rik Mayall at Exeter University

What “Dr Rik Mayall’s” speech lacked in originality it made up for in energy and guidance. And the chap at the end behind Rik who balks at “You go out there and have yourselves a fucking good life!”

Will Ferrell at Harvard

Any speaker would get bonus points for the boat show outfit. Ferrell simply being Ferrell enters to Kool & The Gang, mocks pretty much all of Harvard and even gets a laugh from the parents.

“Apparently the Berlin wall went back up because we now live in RUSSIA”.

Steve Jobs at Stanford

Steve Jobs’ famous graduation speech makes the list. His speech is filled with platitudes and bursting with cheesiness, but you can forgive him for the sheer quality and truth of what he says.

Even though most of the video’s views will come from Apple fanboys, you have to admit his advice to “stay hungry” is followed by Americans everywhere, even if they do take the advice too literally.

Bono at Pennsylvania University

His Kermit anecdotes and mullet lamenting somewhat make up for his contradictions and tax evasions, which aren’t so gently brought up in the comments section.

Having said that it’s safe to say the Youtube comments section has seen more abuse than a Miley Cyrus twerking compilation.

Ellen Degeneres at Tulane

“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.”

Extra points as always for segueing the speech into a song towards the end – “You’re gonna be okay, just dance”.

Ali G at Harvard

The reactions of the people behind Ali G are what make this video. It’s surprising they looked so bored when he made sure he kept his speech short, because as he says “actions speak louder than birds”.

Ali deserves credit for being humble in not boasting about his alma mater, but then in some ways you could say London Met need the publicity.

Stephen Colbert at Northwestern University

Everyone loves a bit of self deprecation, especially when it’s relatable: “I had been a philosophy major, but I decided to switch to something with stronger job prospects- theatre major”.

Oprah Winfrey at Stanford

Oprah urges us to “honour our calling”. To combine emotion and effort, and ditch the fast lane. It’s very emotive and very very cringe. But, if you got a 2:2 and your questioning life decisions, at least you’re not spouting this rubbish at some of the most educated minds on the planet.

Cheers Oprah.