Be Effective, Not Aesthetic

We’ve all seen these titles and felt compelled to click on them. Here we sit, thinking maybe this’ll be the one. We’ve all been mesmerized by the visual appeal of said video, far too preoccupied to realize the speaker has only mentioned they’re using Zebra mildliners, muji pens and washi tape. We’ve all exited the tab, facing the reality that we’ve gained nothing of substance from that 10-minute video.

There is a distinction to be made between videos containing real-time study recordings and those that offer tips to students on how to maximize their academic potential. This article looks deeper in the dangers of the study community on YouTube. According to an article by Business Insider, YouTubers have learned that students are avidly searching for ways to stay motivated throughout the semester. These videos rack up millions of views, lead to an increase in subscribers and bring in large sums of money for the creators. 

Disclaimer: I have been known to binge hours of productivity videos as a method of procrastinating on my own pressing tasks.

Journal in front of laptop Photo by Nick Morrison from Unsplash

Spoiler alert, these videos hardly offer anything useful. All it does is waste your time. 

With the pandemic, I had extra time before the beginning of the academic year to search for new tips that I could implement into my routine. Imagine my surprise, months later, when I realized that the study community has completely sacrificed value studying tips for aesthetic stationary. 

Previously, I’ve been ignorant to the classist ideology embodied in the approaches of these videos. Now, I find some of the videos to be classist in their approaches. More often than not, the stationery mentioned as “absolute necessities” in these videos tend to be extremely costly. It’s easy for someone to stumble across one of these videos and feel pressured into purchasing the mentioned items, purely because “YouTube said so.”

I distinctly remember an elementary school experience, whereby my teachers provided the class with a list of necessary items to purchase. My parents, having never gone through the education system, felt compelled to buy the listed items to “ensure their children’s success.” 

Sound familiar? 

Today’s studying community is focused on what to study, rather than how to study.

woman writing in a notebook with laptop nearby Photo by Nenad Stojkovic distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license

Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with looking to YouTube videos for inspiration during an academic slump. School can get overwhelming, and it’s easy to lose motivation. Personally, I turn to YouTubers such as Hannah Elise, Madison Rector, and AmandaRachLee for that extra boost. These creators focus on daily productivity, rather than placing emphasis on the items they own.

a hand holds a pen writing on sheets of paper on a wooden desk. there's a coffee cup and a notebook in front of it. Free-Photos | Pixabay I recently happened upon Ali Abdaal’s channel, a recent graduate of Cambridge University, and now a junior doctor working in the United Kingdom. Ali’s channel is supported by scientific research regarding the study methods that have proven to be effective. If you’re struggling with effective studying, a great place to start is his video entitled “How to study for exams - Evidence-based revision tips.” It’s packed with useful information, as well as feasible methods to actually guarantee success in your academic career.

Coming from someone who would spend hours taking notes until they were “pretty enough,” do yourself a favour and give Ali’s channel a try.

After all, there’s absolutely no correlation between spending hundreds on stationery and earning higher grades.