How to make the most of your university education

April 30, 2019
Author: Jenn McGarrigle

Advice from VIU graduates

It’s that time of year again. Another group of Vancouver Island University graduates are getting ready to cross the stage and head off into the real world – or into graduate programs.

What’s the secret to success in your university studies and beyond? How do you avoid burnout? Why should you try a different type of class? How do you figure out what’s next? Here’s some advice from recent graduates and alumni.


Annie Hepp, Biology graduate, who works as a Regional Interpretive Specialist for the Texas State Parks division of Texas Parks & Wildlife

“Value your time at VIU and make the most of the amazing opportunities that are available to you. After going through the graduate program at SFU, I saw firsthand how little time the faculty have for their undergrad students. Spend time getting to know your teachers, ask them about opportunities for work and research. Visit their office if you have questions – in my case, I know they were always happy to talk.”

“And don’t be afraid to find your dream job, even if it is far away! I never thought I could live anywhere else than Vancouver Island. When the opportunity to work in Texas came up I really struggled with leaving behind my friends, family and island-life. The first year was hard and I was homesick a lot, but I have fallen in love with Texas.”


Zoey Poulsen, Sport, Health and Physical Education graduate, who works as a YouTube blogger, freelance digital marketer and writer

“VIU inspired me to become a lifelong learner even if I am not in school. ‘Love where you learn,’ has always stuck with me, hence my moves to Toronto and Rome. The most significant thing I have done since graduating is travel! It is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.”


Matt Lerner, History graduate, who works as an Associate Immigration Consultant for SYMY Immigration Consultants & Recruitment in Edmonton

“Engage with the people at VIU. The clubs are a great way to meet like-minded people and have a lot of fun. Being in the VIU Model UN Club, I got to be in Washington when Obama was first elected and witness his final campaign speech. Also, talk to your professors, because they are a great resource. People at VIU don’t understand how unique it is to be on a first-name basis with your profs. Drop by their office, as they actually do enjoy having students there, and the help you receive from them can truly make your grades better. And for those looking to do more schooling, it really helps the profs write good recommendation letters when they know who you are and what you’re about.”

Emma Burnard, Tourism Management graduate*

“Take at least one random elective that is fun and interesting to you. This definitely helps when you have a semester of classes you have to take but may not be the most interesting or fun. It will give you something to look forward to.”

*this quote originally appeared in The Nav VIU Student Press


Kimberley Barrett, Biology graduate, who will pursue a Master’s of Science at the University of Alberta this September

“Don’t get stuck in what you think you want to do – let yourself be wrong about that. For me university was a stepping stone to get into medical school, but I wasn’t inspired by those classes and it seemed like a chore to study the material. But then I took an ecology class and I loved it. I had an amazing time going outside handling mice and birds and it was a good introduction to what science really is. This is the perfect time to determine who you want to be and what you believe in.”

Related Posts

Got an article idea for the blog? Email

Sign up for our blog