University Students Display Their Creativity on TikTok


Courtesy of Sara Hecht

One of Hecht’s many TikToks

A.J. Fezza, Co-Culture Editor

Arguably the biggest shift in the social media landscape over the past few years has been the rapid rise of TikTok. It only took TikTok a little more than three years since its creation in late 2016 to reach one billion downloads in February 2019. Then, the app catapulted to two billion downloads, just over a year later in April 2020. Currently, President Trump is threatening to ban the app in the United States if it continues under Chinese ownership, and this has brought TikTok even more recognition and demonstrated the platform’s global significance.

TikTok is very popular among college students in particular. The largest demographic is 18-24 year olds, who comprise 42% of the app’s users.

Part of what makes TikTok unique is that most content that a user comes across on his or her algorithm-driven feed, called the “For You Page,” is not from celebrities. Celebrities certainly do have a major presence on the app, but most of the content encountered is from fellow ordinary teens and twentysomethings. 

Villanova has some popular creators of its own. Jordan McMeans is a senior from Connecticut, who has over 86,000 followers on his TikTok account @jordanmcmeans. An avid runner, McMeans has dedicated most of his account to showing his runs and giving fitness and diet tips. Now that he is back on campus for the year, his videos feature walks on campus and trips with his friends to the local Starbucks.

Also from Connecticut is sophomore Sara Hecht, who happens to be a writer for The Villanovan. Hecht’s account @whattheactualhecht has almost 21,000 followers. She mostly posts fashion videos, but she also occasionally posts humor and singing. She takes requests from her followers on what to post and what styles to try next.

“I started using TikTok during quarantine once classes ended because I needed something to do before my summer job started,” Hecht said. “Making the videos was a good alternative to sitting in bed all day and just watching other people’s videos. This past week, I joined the TikTok Creator Fund which pays creators for every 1,000 views.”

Even students that don’t post often or don’t have many followers can strike it big with their posts. For example, the freshman Natalie Monti recently posted about her experience being quarantined at The Inn at Villanova University, receiving more than 120,000 views and 16,000 likes. In her video, Monti showed off the tasty options that the hotel had to offer for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

McMeans, Hecht and Monti are far from the only Villanova students that have made it big with their TikToks. A simple search of #villanova on the app will show you hundreds of videos, some receiving over 10,000 likes, that people (mostly students) have made about the University. Topics range from jokes about the University’s promotion of portable chairs to comparing Villanova to other Pennsylvania schools (like Temple and the University of Pennsylvania).

Villanova’s student organizations are creating TikTok accounts left and right. For example, Villanova Television (@vtv17), the University’s Dance Team (@villanovadance) and the University’s South Asian fusion dance team Nova NASSA (@novanassa) all have accounts.

Despite this, Villanova may not be as deep into TikTok as some other schools. While we succeed with our youth activity, our adult activity lags behind. Unlike the University, institutions like the University of Southern California and Auburn University have TikTok-famous professors. Also, Johns Hopkins University, Hofstra University and Harcum College  have official TikTok accounts, a trend that the University Administration has yet to follow.

Still, one thing is for sure: if TikTok ends up getting banned anytime soon, the Villanova community would be affected. Although, given the amount of time that many students spend on the app, this could be good news, at least for their grades.