YouTuber Ruby Granger posts videos of her studying in the hopes of helping others do the same. (Image via The Times)
Thoughts x

Who knew watching someone else study could be more than a distraction from your own work?

If you haven’t seen Ruby Granger’s “Study With Me-15 Hour Study Day” video, prepare to be amazed. In the beginning, she sits at her desk writing a to-do list for the long day ahead. While she studies, classical music plays in the background. She works on a few essays, goes through some flash cards and does some chemistry.

I enjoyed the video, because I liked Granger’s personality. She was put together, articulate and oh-so focused. Even better, she wasn’t ashamed of posting videos of herself studying for so many hours. Her material pretty much follows the same format as other videos on StudyTube, a niche group of YouTubers who film themselves studying.

Videos from other StudyTubers, often called “Study With Me’s,” will vary but they do share some common characteristics. Most are time-lapsed, so you’re not watching a several-hour-long study session. Sometimes there will be a voiceover narrating what homework the student is doing or the test they’re studying for. Because it’s the 21st century, the StudyTubers mainly use their laptops to study, but there is still a good bit of writing — whether that’s notes, mind maps, flashcards, outlines or some type of math homework.

What is the purpose of watching these videos and couldn’t you just use that time to study instead? It’s hard to get motivated to study, especially for subjects you don’t like and ones in which you struggle. I believe these videos are meant to show viewers that they are capable of tackling such heavy course loads. Granger just happens to be really talented at making these videos.

As soon as I started watching her videos, I couldn’t stop thinking about how unproductive I am when I study. I envy her focus, because I get distracted easily. Apparently other commenters feel the same way. One commenter, ANNSQ, writes below her “15-Hour Study Video”: “Is anyone else watching this whilst they should be studying and feeling extremely pathetic compared to her?” Also, I think Granger’s “Study With Me” videos are oddly relaxing to watch. She narrates them in a soft, airy voice played over gentle music.

Granger’s videos are more than just motivational. They show how students accept certain expectations of themselves, but also how they reject those expectations at the same time.

Great Expectations: Ruby Granger and the Contagious Culture of High Achievement

In a Mashable article, Granger talks about the pressure for students to be high achievers and the appeal of StudyTubers. “In a society where there is heightened competition and pressure to succeed, I feel that an increasing number of young people really do care about their studies,” Granger said. “It not only then seems natural, but pragmatic, that students should tune in online to hear other people’s study tips.”

Granger, like many of the StudyTubers I’ve watched, is from the United Kingdom. To qualify for a university, British StudyTubers spend a considerable amount of time studying for exams such as the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and A-Levels. Students take GCSEs during their second year in high school and then move onto A-Levels the last two years of high school and take the exam when their classes end.

These exams clearly put a lot of stress on students in the United Kingdom. Everyone wants to do their best, so they can get into a university where they actually want to go. Granger received her scores a few weeks ago and posted a video about them. She got all A’s on her A-Levels, even getting an A* in English, but she was still disappointed that she got an A in Religious Studies instead of an A* (the highest score).

Despite the appeal of watching SudyTube videos for advice, education experts have actually warned that watching YouTube study vloggers would stress students out more instead of helping them because the vloggers set unrealistic study goals. “We need to get away from the videos, I suspect they are whipping up hysteria,” said Chris McGovern, the chair of the Campaign for Real Education, to the Telegraph. “Unfortunately for youngsters, they tend to whip each other up into a frenzy.”

How Granger Rejects Expectations

Ruby Granger rejects the notion that teens dislike school. She enjoys learning for the sake of learning. She has posted videos of her studying not only over Christmas break but also during the summer. As any student knows, it takes true dedication for someone to study over the holidays.

I feel like some people in the comments section assumed that all of the studying she did kept her from having a social life. Going back to the 15-hour study video, I saw comments along the lines of “you need to take a break,” “all of this studying is pointless” or “get a life.” Contrary to these statements, Granger actually does have a fun life outside of studying. She is an avid reader and has even written a novel. Additionally, her friends show up in some of her vlogs. She doesn’t let other people affect her definition of fun. Granger stays true to herself, which is hard to do at an age that is clouded by peer pressure.

Studying for fun is a novel concept for some people to wrap their heads around. Filming yourself studying for the whole world to see is even more puzzling to people. Despite the naysayers who criticize her for being a workaholic, Granger keeps on doing what works for her in order to reach her goals. That is something we should all aspire to.

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