Motee News

Guest Contributor Lucy Parsons Gives Us 5 Great Tips for College Success

Written by Andrew on August 21, 2018
top five tips for college success by lucy parsons
How to get your studies off to a flying start this college year

With the start of a new college year you’ll be eager to get your studies off to a flying start. You’re thinking along the right lines, because starting as you mean to go on is the key to success in any academic pursuit.

In this article I’m going to share with you how to make this your best year ever, as far as your studies are concerned.

1. Pick classes that you love

The best way to lose your motivation and go off track with your studies is to study subjects you don’t love. If you want to excel you need to stick to subjects that you’re passionate about and naturally want to learn more about. This is the quickest and least painful way to be successful at university or college.

2. Manage your time tightly

With classes, deadlines, clubs, sports and social activities coming out of your ears it’s often difficult to keep track of what you need to do and when. My advice is to get a tight grip on all of this right at the beginning of the first semester. Get a piece of paper, open up Excel or create a google doc which shows all the days of the week, and all 24 hours of the day. Then fill in this grid with all your regular commitments. If your commitments are irregular, you might need a grid for every week of the semester. (You can download a grid to help you with this here).

Once you’ve got all your commitments written in, add in your independent study times. When I was at Cambridge University in the UK, I managed my time by treating my studies like an office job. I studied from 9am to 6pm then had the evening for social engagements. I kept this arrangement until the final few weeks of my third year when I started to study in the evenings as well.

When you map out your time clearly like this you never have to feel guilty about having fun and you never have to feel like you’re missing out on the fun when you’re studying. You know you’ve got a balance of both and that you’re making the most of life at college.

3. Establish good study habits

It’s very easy to sit at your desk or in a library for hours not achieving very much. However, if you establish good habits you’ll get on much better and waste much less time. Habits that I’d encourage at college are:

  • Reading through lecture notes at the end of every day to make sure you’ve understood them
  • Keeping a clear record of your reading material so that you’re able to accurately reference it in your essays
  • Sharing essays and other submitted work with your classmates so that you all get much more out of each assignment set

If you stick with your good habits they will serve you well throughout the college year.

4. Assess your own work

When you’ve written essays or assignments to be submitted, or you’re practicing for tests or exams, make sure you always critically evaluate your own work. This is explained in my blog post on the Revision Power Hour.

By taking the time to read and reflect on your own work you will ensure that you are learning from both what you’re doing well and what you can improve. If possible, reference mark schemes or work in collaboration with fellow students to give feedback on each other’s work and help each other to improve.

5. Be consistent

Success in education is all about consistency – not about leaving everything until the last minute. Make sure you set yourself up for success my being consistent throughout the college year.

I hope these tips will help you make the most of your time at college. Best of luck!

Lucy Parsons is an Academic Coach based in the UK and author of The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever Take. She studied geography at Cambridge University. Check out her blog and podcast at or connect with her on twitter.

Motee News

What Motivates Team Motee

Written by Andrew on July 13, 2017

Just what motivates team Motee? A few months ago, the Motee Team talked to students on six campuses in the Triangle about their experiences in study groups and peer learning relationships.

What they told us inspired me. It was greater than motivation. It was a call to action. I heard students express that getting it right isn’t about a correct answer; it is about a meaningful exchange that creates the will to do. It is the pursuit and glorious self, wisdom or knowledge discovery. Those conversations generated a kind of energy. Each person expressed a desire to go beyond. To create. To be a part of something great.

Here’s some of what they told us. I see something remarkable. Do you see it too?

“Teaching is learning” Middlebury College – Computer Science major

“I figured out my first semester, first year, that having a study partner there to work with keeps me on task.” Meredith College – Economics major

“Right before Finals, I get in a study group and we split up the study guide sections and then come back together and compare notes. It makes me feel more driven and motivated.” UNC-Chapel Hill – Journalism and Public Relations senior

“I was never in a study group in high school, but I’ve been in some here. It makes studying more fun, and you learn more from others.” UNC-Chapel Hill – Biology/ English major

“I don’t really like to study in groups; it’s too distracting. But I LOVE helping others, especially in science labs.” Meredith College – International Business major

“Normally I like to study alone, but I like to collaborate in groups in my own field (Social Work/Psychology). I really like to be the group facilitator. It helps me make connections, feel included, and listen and think through things.” Durham Tech – Psychology sophomore

Writing this, I’m sitting in a wide open co-working space not unlike a library common room. Across the room I see people engaged in pursuit. Conversation. Sitting at tables. Quietly working out computer code, writing email, and drawing on whiteboards. Further across the room is a mural of a human in full space suit walking in space. Not far a large piece of the Berlin wall stands watch. People are engaged in their own higher endeavors.

When I glance at the astronaut walking in space or gaze at the Berlin wall monument. I know the distance it takes us to reach our goals. University students I see you. I see your ability. I see your willingness to reach beyond the ordinary and create something new. And I am motivated.

Motee News

Nature’s Motivator

Written by Andrew on July 13, 2017

natures motivator dopamine cute mouse

You might be reading this because you have work to do, and need a little help getting it done. You might be reading this to learn to help others get their work done. Dopamine is going to help us both get through this article. It’s nature’s motivator.

Dopamine fuels our resolve to complete tasks. It provides the vehicle for conscious motivation. Studies show that rats deprived of this chemical in their brains won’t feed on food that’s only a few inches away from them. Even when they reach starvation levels. They starve to death!

Scary I know.

What exactly is dopamine?

Most people know it as the “pleasure chemical” of the brain. It’s responsible for making us recognize pleasurable things. It’s the chemical that tells us to pursue pleasurable activities. Dopamine’s role doesn’t start and end with pleasure. It’s a vital part of our behavior, attention, mood, sleep, learning, memory, and motivation.

The story is larger than a simple “pleasure chemical.” Researchers discovered that dopamine is present when soldiers diagnosed with PTSD are exposed to the sound of gunfire. They concluded that it acts more as a motivation chemical. In this case, it motivated the soldiers to avoid the perceived threat situation.

Everybody can take advantage of dopamine. The key is creating rewarding experiences. For the rats, it’s food. For soldiers, it’s safety. For students, it’s good grades.

When you complete one goal, reward yourself in proportion to your effort! This can be something as small as a 5-minute break or a self-congratulation. Let yourself feel the positivism of succeeding. The bigger efforts and rewards give the biggest dopamine response.

Researchers at the University of Michigan suggest if you find yourself in a lull of motivation, “focus on imaging the joy of completing” your task.

Hacking dopamine levels is simple. See. I’ve been running a half-marathon while writing this blog post. Yay me! 13.1. Now it’s time for coffee. My favorite reward.


For more on motivation, check out Ali In Bloom’s article on Collaboration, Motivation, and Sticking Together!