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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

Stay motivated


International students were asked how they managed to stay motivated and on task.

  • Have a clear understanding about why you are studying for your course.
  • Remind yourself of your long and short term goals.
  • Focus on improvements rather than problems.
  • Make big things manageable by breaking them into smaller parts.

Dale Yeoh: Take it a step at a time. That was the key really, because it’s about setting small objectives for yourself so that you reach your final goal. And the moment I started doing that, that’s when things started to unfold a lot better for me. Even things like telling yourself to learn one word every day, or maybe asking more questions, telling yourself during tutorial today I’m going to ask two questions. Simple things like that, setting these mini objectives really seemed to help.

Jyethe Wong: When I got my first assignment I kind of panicked … it was such a huge assignment I had no idea how to tackle it …One thing I found pretty useful was something one of my friends told me… you work out how many words you will need to write for each section … like my first assignment was an essay that was 2000 words which I found really, really difficult. I looked carefully at the question and I worked out how many parts that I would need and how many words I would need for each part. You have to remember to include the introduction and conclusion … this way you will find you have to write several much, much smaller sections …so I found breaking it down this way makes it less scary.

  • Make sure you plan time for yourself that is enjoyable.
  • Reward yourself when you make small improvements.

Jyethe Wong: When I started the course I found I was spending loads and loads of time studying and never doing anything else … because I was quite stressed about keeping up with all my work and my grades… so I started making time to go out with friends and going to the movies and I would put this in my diary planner so I would do these things … I still made sure that I was keeping up with my study and keeping up my grades … but I found that having a break and doing something different meant that when I sat in a library and in front of the computer, that I was ready to study instead of feeling stressed up and getting distracted.

  • Ask for advice and help if you need it.
  • Talk to other students about how you are going.

LinBei Li : When I got my first assignment it was really a shock for me … actually I failed the assignment. I couldn’t believe it … I hadn’t ever failed any assignment in my life so I really felt terrible … one of my friends, she failed too … and she told me she went to see her tutor and he told her what was wrong … that was a big help to her … so.. I made an appointment with my tutor and it was great…. he explained that I didn’t understood the question properly and it was also helpful to know that I wasn’t the only one who found the assignment hard ... actually my tutor told me that the assignment was designed to show them who might need help and to show us what standard of work we should be doing …. my tutor told me that I should always ask if there is anything I don’t understand about an assignment ….. I felt much better after talking to him… Instead of wanting to give up I felt more confident to do the next assignment.

Jyethe Wong : I also found it helped me to talk to other students about how they were getting on … it made me realise that everyone sometimes found things a little bit difficult. Sharing information with your friends or just talking in general about our studies was really, really helpful. Often I found myself talking to other students helped make things clearer for me especially your class mates. It was so much more fun studying later and knowing that everyone had the same problem as me.