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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

For the past few weeks, tiktoker Kay Chung has taken over my For You Page on Tiktok. And, I have very mixed feelings about her account—or rather, what her account inspires others to do.

Kay Chung is a second year dental school student at UCLA who documents her life in an authentic manner. She has specifically become known for her studying time lapses, which involve her pulling all nighters, drinking tons of caffeinated drinks, and memorizing 700 slide long lectures all over an electronic remix of the Clown Song. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Kay’s content on its own. She’s incredibly funny and I love the unserious personality she demonstrates in her TikTok. I also love just how “unglamorous” her content really is. For the longest time, it has been a thing to over glamorize studying on social media. I still remember when I subscribed to so many “StudyTubers” who somehow had a midliner for every subject, the most aesthetically pleasing notes to man, and the most sunshiney attitudes when it came to studying, all of which just seemed so unrealistic. Kay’s videos, on the other hand, demonstrate that studying and being a student is not all sunshine and rainbows, but that school is hard and it can be very easy to lose motivation in an environment that asks for a lot and saps a whole lot of energy out of the people in it. 

However, what scares me the most about Kay Chung is how “influential” she accidentally became. Though I truly believe this was never her intention when she started making her videos, somehow her studying methods turned into a whole TikTok Challenge, with millions of creators participating in them. Dubbed as the Kay Chung method, I have seen students of all ages, including high schoolers and university students, make TikToks replicating her study technique and commenting on how it has helped them to perform better in school. 

And that’s what scares me the most: the normalization of high-risk study methods like Kay Chung’s.

Maybe this whole article is very much another annoying, “grandma waving her cane on the lawn” kind of piece. But, I still remember vividly my own high school days, and how students loved to brag about pulling all-nighters and sleeping less than the recommended hours per night. It was almost a badge of honor, at least when I was growing up, to sacrifice sleep and your health in exchange for getting the best grades. Moreover, I felt like both on the internet and just being in school, there was never a culture of encouraging or teaching students proper or healthy studying routines—it was either the perfect aesthetic and unrealistic studying or the all nighters and being pumped up on caffeine ways. And, I feel like the Kay Chung challenge only adds fuel to the fire; now this badge of honor isn’t just confined within the means of one’s school community, it has also permeated the internet. In a way, it is now just a part of the school experience. And that’s what saddens me the most: seeing students pulling an all-nighter, gleefully just calling it a “Kay Chung Night,” because that’s what they see on the Internet, and knowing that they are less likely to learn any other way of studying because they see people who are older and successful only studying in one way. And thus, this unhealthy culture around school and studying sticks, rather than being changed from the inside out. 

Of course, none of this is Kay’s fault at all: even she constantly reminds her viewers that her methods aren’t sustainable or healthy. On top of that, in every article you read about Kay Chung, there are constant reminders about how large caffeine intake and lack of sleep are dangerous. The unfortunate reality, however, is that these videos becoming popular only signifies that studying the Kay Chung way is something that is encouraged and glamorized by our society at large, and people will simply accept that it’s something they have to do rather than learning healthier ways of balancing their time or even calling out their institutions for overworking their students (because in what business does a 15-16 year old in high school need to pull an all nighter, and why are we encouraging healthcare professionals to live unhealthy lives to get a job? But that’s a whole nother article for another time…) And that’s what scares me the most. 

Brinda Kalita

UC Riverside '24

4th year history major with opinions on anything and everything