“Hmmm, I have to write my essay for tomorrow, but I have no idea how! Where can I get some quick guide?” Course materials, library, school’s writing center website, YouTube? Nah, that’s your granny talking. You just reach for the phone and go straight on TikTok.
Many authors writing about educational content on TikTok call it an “unlikely pairing.” After all, older folks have been branding the app “mind-numbing” since the time it took the digital world by storm back in 2017. As for me, the only thing I find baffling is that it took the platform so long to drift in this direction! After all, it caters perfectly to the microlearning trend I wrote about a while ago.
Moreover, out of its 1.2 billion active users, roughly 43% are young Millennials and Gen-Zers between 18 and 24 years old. These data don’t include younger kids, who, due to somewhat relaxed registering policies, flock to the platform from the age as early as 6, with tweens and younger teens being the most ardent fans. They are building entire communities centered around the same creative or pop-culture interests.
What unites these demographics? They are students. Schoolchildren and college kids – naturally curious and predisposed to absorb knowledge. It’s only logical that teachers and educators finally decided to turn TikTok from an enemy into an ally.
Of course, it hardly can double as a full-fledged educational platform, lacking accountability and connection. Yet it does something better. It promotes curiosity. As Seth Godin, a famous entrepreneur and author, once pointed out, modern education’s failure can be summed up in one question: “Will this be on the test?” He puts this system in contrast with the concept of enrollment: “People are there because they want to be, eager to move forward.” Well, active involvement, enthusiasm, and peer-to-peer is the best way to describe TikTok, in my opinion.
You, being a student, are undoubtedly better informed about all the top TikTok accounts with cute otters, cosplayers, standup comedians, relationship coaches, and POV thirst-traps. Yes, I know what you are up to. However, being your (sometimes not so) cool nerdy aunt, let me give you some tips on where to find short vids that could actually save your bacon during a test or help you with that last-minute paper of yours. Here are my top 10 picks for aspiring and new university students.
Subtle tips about grammar and tone that point you toward the correct answer, solving most typical math problems on the ACT, avoiding trap answers, spotting grammar tricks that come up each year – Rose does know tests. No wonder, being a test preparation tutor since 2008!
For everyone who needs more information about standardized testing and essential tips on passing a test with flying colors, this TikTok channel gives it all for free. Bite-sized videos will teach you to simplify hard ACT math questions, give you precious English shortcuts, and answer your most burning questions about standardized testing inner logic.
Whether you plan to apply to a highly selective school or not, this channel is gold for any college hopeful. It documents one clever girl’s journey into her dream school in a fun and helpful way, so you can repeat her success – in your own unique way, of course. How to start a high school club, what extra-curricular you need to stand out, how does the Yale dean know you if you didn’t write your essay, do you need sports to get into an Ivy school – all these and a handful of other essential questions answered on this channel.
@ivyleagueguide gives first-hand tips from a student, but it also incorporates insights from real college admission coaches on essay writing, building your application, and being noticed. The best thing about this channel is interactivity, as it regularly encourages subs to ask questions and answers them with actionable advice.
Arianna Tamayo’s channel might not be strictly educational, but it’s useful for students. As with most things online nowadays, it’s half eye candy, half tutorial. Her TikTok gives practical studying and note-taking tips for paper and tablets, provides loads of handwriting inspo, stationary ASMR, and simply estheticizes studying, so cheers to that! Arianna clearly enjoys every second behind her white desk, sipping warm milk with strawberry-and-white-chocolate rosettes and scribbling away in her neat handwritten fonts. And all this is highly infectious – in a very good way.
If you need something to get you in the mood for studying – that’s the channel to include in your routine. Just begin each session with a couple of her videos. Only don’t slip into hours of watching and procrastinating. Again.
Structuring your personal statement paragraph-by-paragraph, textbooks that will help you get A on your tests, apps every student needs, and plenty of other revision and writing tips from a UK-based medical dentistry student.
This TikToker covers many different subjects and gives tips on revising for them with pinpoint precision. There is some UK and degree-specific content, but most of the time, her advice is universal and is a must for any new student – or an aspiring applicant. Plus, don’t underestimate the entertainment value. It’s TikTok, after all!
From bizarre jobs in Ancient Egypt to historical inspiration behind COD Warzone, this channel is a treasure trove of rare historical facts often overlooked in the curriculum. History is exciting, but, too often, is devoid of the human dimension. It’s all about the “awakening of the nation” and “struggle of the oppressed masses,” which leaves nothing for a flesh-and-blood student to relate to.
Creators behind @historyavenue fill this gap with colorful factoids about US President Andrew Jackson’s cussing parrot, public debates over mask-wearing during the 1918 Spanish Flue pandemic, and astronauts’ tripping and falling over on the Moon because gravity is a tricky thing. Where it is possible, short videos are pieced together from precious historical footage and photos, ranging from epic to goofy. History buffs and laymen alike will find it entertaining and full of little revelations.
If you need help wrapping your head around Algebra and Calculus, here is the TikTok for you. Evaluating piecewise functions, simplifying exponents, solving absolute value equations, and graphing linear inequalities – explained and made easy and fun with jokes, dances, and lifestyle content added to the mix.
The guys behind this channel give tips on solving basic algebra equations, graphing, quick SAT solutions, easy mental math, and other math hacks that will come in handy if you have math in your high school or college schedule. For easy access, there are three playlists: Mental Math, Math Hacks, and Algebra.
The author of @blondiebytes is a software engineer with a cute self-deprecating sense of humor that wins you over from the first seconds. She enthusiastically answers questions from the audience about becoming better at engineering, her least and most favorite programming languages, and her life as a woman in STEM.
She gives her advice to new developers on basic coding stuff like deploying, testing, debugging, avoiding merge conflicts, and fixing a CI/CD pipeline. Yet there are lots of wise tips on work/life balance, taking care of your mental health, and thriving in the industry. For example, she discussed getting hired, imposter syndrome, teamwork, continuous learning, and the obvious downsides of deploying on Fridays.
The channel “Spanish with Latef” is a great way to immerse yourself in Spanish and supplement your learning. Latef has many useful playlists on vocabulary, irregular verbs, pronunciation, casual conversation, and quick tests of your proficiency level. The channel covers the basics like the conjugation of the essential verb “hacer” and the subtleties like the difference between Spanish spoken in Spain and different countries of Latin America.
Latef also offers a collection of comparisons between similar features of Spanish and other languages. This is very helpful if you speak one of them or have already learned some in the past, so you can draw from your experience. Latef speaks English, Italian, and French in those videos to demonstrate similarities and differences. Still, the rest of the conversations happen in Spanish since the most efficient way to learn a language is to dive in headfirst.
Iconic physicist and the face of modern science in pop culture, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, has made it his mission to popularize scientific knowledge and worldview. Therefore, his joining TikTok in a bid to reach wider (and younger) audiences was just the next logical step on this way.
On his channel, you find anything from math motivation to space facts to action plans for what to do if you meet actual aliens (“Take them to comic con!”). Plus, there are occasional chats with celebrities like Katy Perry about science and traditional answers to questions from the comments like “What is the scariest fact you know?”, “Would you live forever?” or even “Do you believe stones like rose quartz have significant meaning?” (spoiler: no).
Discovery Channel has always been a way to sneak in some knowledge through visually stunning content and incite wonder and curiosity about the Earth. The eponymous TikTok continues in the same vein: squid’s color-changing cells in high-res, ancient nails from the Sumerian city, real-life Hogwarts, and white water rafting in Oregon. It’s a kaleidoscope of our planet’s varied beauty accompanied by curious facts and upbeat soundtracks.
Although Discovery targets the broadest possible audience, I am sure that even Marine Biology or Archeology majors will find something to discover here.
Of course, no amount of TikTok subscriptions will replace one structured course. In the words of Rachel Weinstock, educator, coach, and successful TikTok creator, “TikTok is the surface area tool – letting me spread my message. […] I use it to invite users into my paid and deeper programs.” This is how most TikTok creators see the platform.
You, as a student, should also view it as a catalog of possible teachers and mentors. Select which areas of knowledge and educators appeal to your intellectual curiosity and dive deeper! By the way, here are the popular hashtags to look specifically for educational content: