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UniTok: Does It Spark Inspiration or Create Academic Pressure?

You might have heard of BookTok but have you heard of the newest TikTok trend, “UniTok?”

TikTok app and logo. Credit: Shutterstock/ItsBijay

The newest trend circulating social media, coined “UniTok,” might be directly or indirectly affecting your motivation to study or creating pressure to perform academically.

During the past few years, users of TikTok have seen many different types of trends ranging from coordinated dances to food hacks to fashion, hairstyle and home decor inspiration. However, a new trend under the name #UniTok, displaying the numerous aspects of university students’ lives, has expanded across TikTok.

UniTok is a term defining mostly university students who film their everyday tasks and experiences of being a student. In these videos, things such as various ways of commuting to school, studying in the library or attending lectures are shown. The hashtag #Unitok currently has 440,6 million views on TikTok. It has become a larger phenomenon for many young people. But how come this trend is so popular among young people? And how does it affect your study patterns?

The Two Sides Of UniTok

The UniTok trend can be divided into two sides: one side displaying romanticized and glamorous life and another side presenting a more relatable and realistic lifestyle. The first side might for some people create a set of unrealistic standards.

Most people don’t have the ability, time, or resources to get up at 5 AM, do a workout, get morning coffee and a smoothie bowl, drive to class, buy a delicious lunch, and so on. This will, for many students, seem overwhelming and unrealistic and simply create more pressure. A university student at Aarhus University studying Law says the following about the two sides of UniTok:

“I sometimes get a bit annoyed when seeing videos on TikTok of the unrealistic lifestyle of some university students. It creates an image of perfection that we cannot ever live up to. This sometimes makes me feel guilty but at the same time, they can also motivate me to study more. I see both kinds of TikToks on my FYP but I prefer the funny, relatable videos”

Anonymous law student at Aarhus University

In contrast, another side of UniTok displays the more real side of being a student. Here, students show themselves taking naps during the day, eating a pre-packed lunch and crying about their struggles. Maybe you feel behind on homework and never-ending assignments. Or maybe you are comparing yourself to your fellow students? Or maybe you are stressing over finals? Whatever it may be, there most likely will be a TikTok exemplifying and relating to your struggles.

The content on Unitok can create a feeling of relatability and community. A feeling of not being alone when seeing somebody else, maybe in a different country, having the same experiences as you. Content creator, ‘Risa,’ displays a more comedic and relatable side of studying for finals in the TikTok below.

How Can UniTok Motivate You?

That’s not to say that the relatable UniTok content is the only thing that creates a positive feeling among students. The romanticized content also might have a positive effect on some students as it can spark inspiration. Some might get a feeling of “if they can do it, I can do it too.”

However, many people know of the negative impact of a high use of TikTok but can TikTok help motivate students? A study, made by students of English at The University of Malaga, illustrates just how social media can create a better teaching environment for students. Students feel more engaged and more motivated to start learning new things by themselves when using, for example, TikTok as a tool for learning.

On top of that, the same study showed that using social media platforms in combination with education, can help improve your ability to research, participate in teamwork, and develop your language skills. So, next time you feel as though TikTok might only be dragging you down, it might be good to remember that social media platforms, including TikTok, can also teach you new skills.

Universities Use Of TikTok To Attract Gen Z Students

The massive wave of TikTok has not only hit students across the world but also universities and how they market their schools. TikTok is accessible and reaches a large audience of young people. This is a great tool for universities and their recruitment of new students.

This TikTok marketing strategy allows the universities to show fun facts, campus tours, interviews and much more through an inexpensive and relatable form. According to a study from Pew Research Center from 2022, 67% of teens in the US use TikTok. The study shows just how potentially large an audience there is for universities.

Harvard University’s Use Of TikTok

This has been used by top schools around the world, such as Harvard University, who have created an official TikTok profile. Harvard uses fun trends and educational videos by either professors or current students to attract future ones.

One of these videos by Harvard University is seen below, where current students take on their version of the YouTube trend by WIRED, “The Web’s most searched questions.” With almost 250.000 followers on TikTok and over a million likes, Harvard University could succeed at attracting new students not just based on their name, reputation, and high academic standard but also through their content on TikTok.

@harvard

What makes Harvard College ✨unique✨? Harvard students answer your most searched questions! #Harvard #College #CollegeTok #fyp #StudentLife #HarvardCollege #CollegeStudents #CollegeLife

♬ original sound – Harvard

TikTok is no longer just a platform for dancing, singing, and food videos but also a place that inspires you to learn new skills, look into your future university, and even advertise these universities. Some might not enjoy watching videos of other people studying and attending lectures, while others get a feeling of community, relatability, and motivation.

Whatever the case might be for you, UniTok has filled a wide space on TikTok, and many seem to be engaging in its content either by watching, creating videos, or drawing inspiration.

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