As college students at a public university, we encounter various kinds of diversity on campus each day. You may be walking through Turlington or Plaza of the Americas and find yourself in the middle of a campus protest with students sharing their beliefs on an issue you have never even heard of. But more than any of these experiences, we realize how different we actually are from each other when forced into a group project with three or four random strangers from our class. Students are not afraid to acknowledge how exasperating the process of working in a group project can be, and neither am I. Honestly, it can be incredibly frustrating. There are scheduling conflicts, group members who do not follow through, and arguments about the right way to do things.
Despite all of these setbacks, group projects are a necessary evil, especially for those of us going into a field where collaboration is a part of everyday life at the office. However, there are some ways to get through it with minimal damage:
- 1.Take advantage of group message or GroupMe: This is 2015 and we have the technology to communicate easily with one another, so take advantage of it. I have been involved in a group project with long e-mail threads of hundreds of replies to the original message, and it is difficult to keep up. Using a text-based app to communicate means that you can reply on the go and more easily look back to reference an earlier message. Not to mention the added bonus of emojis to spice things up.
- 2. Determine how much of a stake you have in this assignment: Let's be honest, you cannot take the lead on every single group project that you are part of. You are a busy person with a lot of responsibilities and cannot do it all. So, when the professor announces the project, decide for yourself how important this grade is and if you have the time to take the lead and call the shots. If you care enough, and have the time, do not be afraid to take the lead in order to ensure you get the desired results. If not, accept that you are relying on others for your group's success.
- 3. Follow through: If you volunteer to take on one part of the assignment, follow through with it. If you do what you say you will do, your group members are more likely to keep their commitments as well. Don't be “that kid," who acts like he is going to take the lead and do a lot of the work and then does not follow through, leaving everyone else in a scramble. Think about how much work you can reasonably take on, and then put effort into that work.
At the end of the day, group projects are almost always unfair in some aspect and there is no way to stop that. You can, however, try to make the most out of the assignment (or at least survive it with a passing grade.) The important thing to remember is that if you are doing group projects, you will most likely be working in group settings for the rest of your life. That slacker from sophomore year won't magically stop being a slacker when he appears at your firm after graduation, but at least you know how to handle him.