Studygram — guilt-inducing hoax or valuable academic lifeline?

September 19, 2023 — by Jane Lee
Photo by Jane Lee
I love doing my homework in cafes like Starbucks while sipping coffee.
While social media can often be distracting, study influencers have introduced me to new ideas to become a better student.

Oh, to be a popular studygrammer and have the perfectly aesthetic feed and academic preparation most of us can only dream about.

The reality of most students’ lives is much less glamorous.

Take me on a recent night as just one example. At 9:30 p.m., after arriving home from a 3-hour marching band rehearsal, I dreaded looking at my daunting to-do list. I still had to study for a chemistry quiz, pore over formulas for a math test and toil through the assigned AP European History reading. 

Most students have been there — fighting the urge to sleep while having to finish piles of homework late at night before 8 a.m.. 

It doesn’t help that social media study influencers romanticize the idea of studying to a guilt-inducing point where one feels unproductive without buying an iPad Pro or creating tediously aesthetic notes worthy of being posted on your own studygram account. Who owns highlighters in 40 different colors anyway?

Enough with the negatives. Although study influencers definitely set unrealistic standards, the advice they provide can still be useful for students seeking new, efficient ways to study.

One method they suggest is studying somewhere other than a cluttered desk. This helps students to stay organized, instead of spreading notes all over a cluttered desk and eventually losing track of all kinds of papers. Recently, whenever I have a couple of hours free, I’ve begun to enjoy going out to study in different locations. 

My top three spots are the Saratoga Library, the Argonaut Center Starbucks and the Park Saratoga Peet’s Coffee. While the Saratoga Library is quiet, spacious and usually at low capacity, Starbucks and Peet’s main attractions are the drinks and the ambience. Plus, it can be fun to have a study date with a friend while sipping on a pumpkin spice latte.

Even though studying with a friend can be motivating, it will, at times, degenerate into gossip sessions that last more than our so-called 5-minute breaks. Depending on the amount of self-control a study group has, the session can be either very productive or result in chaos with absolutely nothing checked off the to-do list.

If you’re like me, even studying alone leads to an unproportionate amount of breaks, whether I’m scrolling through Pinterest or watching YouTube as hours fly by. 

Ironically, my Pinterest feed introduced me to the solution: the Pomodoro technique — the concept of studying for short periods of time followed by a break — has been trending for years and was even covered in one of the school’s MOSAIC lessons. The recommended ratio of 25 minutes of studying to 5 minutes of break time created a guideline for the amount and length of breaks I took, helping me avoid going down YouTube rabbit holes.

Studygram has also popularized the time-consuming concept of rewriting your notes, whether it be on expensive Japanese stationery or an iPad. In my experience, unfortunately, rewriting my biology notes word-for-word last year turned out to be a waste of time. Additionally, the frustration from highlighting terms crookedly led me to throw away pages of mistakes — it’s safe to say that artsy note-taking doesn’t really help me or my carbon footprint.

Nonetheless, Instagram and YouTube study influencers, along with tips on Pinterest, have been a valuable part of my life ever since I started seriously studying for exams. Seeing other people’s strong work ethic has motivated me to study harder and resulted in better grades.

While studygram has sometimes taken me down wrong paths, the benefits of discovering new study methods has improved my academic life in the long run by helping me explore better study environments and realize what works for me in terms of study efficiency. I’ve also concluded that when it comes to academics, I’d rather not have to rewrite all of my notes every day for the sake of aesthetics. But if you do, more power to you.

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