The two words that I have always dreaded throughout the process of my school years are the words “group project.” Though sometimes (and by sometimes, I mean rarely) they can be fun, there are just too many negative aspects and uncomfortable run-ins I have every single time I have to do one in college. It’s not like a group project at a job where you know who you’re working with and even if you don’t, you know they’re qualified. It is college. And the best part about group projects in college is the feeling of relief the second they are over.
You don’t know anyone in the class
In college especially, this is a common problem of group projects. You come to class to sit and pay attention to what you’re supposed to be learning and you never get to know anyone/everyone. So once you’re assigned a group project you have a panic attack and immediately start examining everyone to see how they act and to see if you’ll be able to work with them easily.
The teacher picks your groups
Sometimes you get off easy and get to pick your own group. But more often than not, your group is assigned to you. So what do you do? You pray the teacher is going to take attendance out loud so you can figure out who is in your group without seeming like a jerk for not knowing their name even though you have no reason to other than for this group project. And when the teacher picks, you will almost always end up with at least one “undesirable” person in your group such as the “no-effort” and the “know-it-all” that I will discuss next in this article.
Usually, in every group, there is one person who clearly is not going to put any effort into the project. On occasion, they seem like they’re going to help out on day one, but after that it’s all downhill. Sometimes they fall off the face of the earth and you don’t hear from them until the day before the assignment is due. This is the person who wants to just put their name on the project, pretend it’s their work and effort, and call it a day. Normally it’s easy to go to the teacher and be like, “Hey, they’re not doing anything and didn’t help us at all.” But the WORST is when the “no-effort” is overly nice to you so you’d feel like a horrible person if you told on them. But overall people don’t want to make a big fuss and just let it happen, which shouldn’t happen, but it does.
This is the person who has to have things done their way no matter what or else they’ll erupt. They believe they know everything about everything and make you feel like whatever you have to say is irrelevant. You gain a sick feeling in your stomach because of the pride you’ve had to swallow because you know you have to pick your battles with this person. Also, when they’re wrong about something and you have to correct them, it may seem like a huge victory for you, but make sure not to celebrate it too much or else they’ll constantly try to prove you wrong until the project is over. And trust me, they’ll find a way.
Figuring out meeting times
So not only are the people themselves an obstacle sometimes but dealing with their availability will be an absolute nightmare. Being a partner in a two-person project is difficult enough time-wise. But when it comes to dealing with four or more people, forget about it. You’ll end up doing a million meetings of smaller portions of the group just so you can make sure everyone is on track, can express their ideas and kind of work together. With the college schedule, chances are slim to none that you will all be able to meet in the same time in the same place more than once.
You’re on your own
After realizing the impossible schedule this project would demand, you see the reality of what you have to do. You give each person a chunk of the work to do on their own and then hope it all comes together in the end. You hope that it will all blend together, and if you have to present, you pray it will appear as a well-oiled machine.
The good news about all of this is that when it’s over, you never have to deal with that particular project ever again. All you have to wait for is the grade at the end of it all. But have no fear! You are free from the “no-effort” AND the “know-it-all!”… Until the next group project.