HomepageNewsSelf-taught Academic Coach Helps 123K Followers Learn to Study

Self-taught Academic Coach Helps 123K Followers Learn to Study

As a student in high school, Dora Zeibekis ’24 struggled with biology. At Ursinus, she excels as a biology (and Spanish) major. If you think she likely has good advice to share on improving one’s study habits, you’re in good company: She has 123,000 followers on Instagram who agree. Known as @coffeestudi, Zeibekis offers study tips and academic coaching.

Zeibekis has been sharpening her study strategies since she struggled with middle school algebra. “I was a horrible student,” said Zeibekis, who recalls feeling unmotivated in school. She met her match in biology class, which demanded more of her mind. She recalls her first exam grade, a 62. “I was like, ‘Okay, I have to change something.’”

Thus began her search for better study habits. She set her sights on improving retention and time management. If she could hone those two properties of learning, the rest might fall into place. She watched other study bloggers, experimented with strategies, and gauged her results.

School was still challenging, but she saw steady improvements. “I needed a lot of extra help.”

So how did she wind up majoring in a subject that once caused her to struggle? “I really got into biology from just challenging myself in school and finding interest in really small things.”

When the pandemic hit, Zeibekis witnessed student motivation crumble. Isolation paired with existential anxiety and boredom drove her to take her biggest risk yet. In a move that surprised even her mother, she created her own study vlog.

“As a kid, I never really was interested in video blogging or blogging,” said Zeibekis. Her friends at Ursinus were her biggest supporters for months, as she garnered 50 views there, 100 views there. She experimented with different styles of video in hopes of inspiring students to do their best in school without overexerting themselves.

“I used to have very strong feelings about when people say they study like eight hours a day, nine hours a day,” said Zeibekis. “Obviously some students in medical school, they have to put that time in, but for college students something like that isn’t sustainable, and it’s not something that is helpful.”

Zeibekis is evidence that college is a time for nurturing the whole person to discover what is possible. She witnessed her own potential as her account blew up.

Her first viral video started with these words, “Want to remember everything you study?” The video concluded how many of her videos nowadays: “Read the caption.” The caption is where Zeibekis shares her tips in great depth, writing out advice that students can take their time learning. Her videos always have a lively comment section where people debate, share experiences, and express gratitude.

Zeibekis noticed that study-focused niches on Instagram like pre-med track student influencers were boastful of day-long study sessions, little sleep, and sharing grades. That kind of culture is antithetical to her own philosophy. On Instagram, she advocates for short, focused study sessions; plenty of rest; and keeping grades private. She is on a path to dismantling hyper-competitive college culture that pervades certain areas of study on social media. “That’s how I got certain communities on Instagram interested in what I was posting,” she said.

Running a social media study vlog about your everyday life can be overwhelming. When that is the case, Zeibekis follows her own advice and takes breaks from posting on days when she is busy with school or is not feeling camera-friendly. “That’s a boundary that I’ve set for myself, because if you just push yourself, what you love can become something that’s stressful, and that’s not something that I want to happen.”

One of her best friends and earliest supporters, Sophie Louis ’24, inspired Zeibekis to prioritize health and wellness in her life. “She is a big part of why in recent months, I’ve started posting a little bit more [about] how to have a better balance in your life, how to focus on taking better care of yourself, and things like that,” said Zeibekis. “My friends have taught me a lot.”

Today, the self-started influencer looks to her postgraduate career, and has even begun offering private academic coaching to students everywhere. “It’s a very niche service that not a lot of people provide, and it’s something that I found that I’m really good at. I feel like I shouldn’t neglect my passion and my strengths.”

Dora Zeibekis '24

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