Group projects are an annoyance and a necessity

Group projects, along with ice-breakers, are among the most hated parts of college life. Unfortunately, neither of those things are going away any time soon. Group projects are really good for getting used to working with people you wouldn’t necessarily want to be working with or relying on. They give you a good look into the future when you’ll have to collaborate with colleagues in the workplace. Sure, the people at work may be more responsible than people in your gen-ed class, but those skills are transferable. So, here are a few ways to make your group projects a little more bearable, and subsequently, more successful. Or, if you’re one of those people who makes group projects so frustrating, here’s how to not disappoint your classmates.

First, as in any other relationship you’ll ever be in, communication is key, even if you have to spearhead that communication yourself. Set up a group chat. There is no reason not to. It’s the easiest way to get everyone on the same page at the same time. Set up a Google Doc, too. This way you can share information quickly and easily. If you can’t make a meeting, tell your group, then get the information from the Doc. Only miss a meeting if you have to. If you don’t show up to a group meeting because you don’t feel like it, you’re hurting yourself and killing your group members. It’s super important to stay on top of communication, but it’s just as important to start planning early.

After the first meeting you should know what each person is doing and when everything is due. Put it in the Doc. This way everyone is held accountable in some way. No one can claim they forgot or weren’t sure what to do if it’s clearly explained in an easily accessible sheet. If you have a person that’s willing to lead the group, have them check-in every once in a while to make sure everyone is on track.

Every part of the project should be due a week or so before the project is actually due so that it can be edited, and then rehearsed, since most group projects have an oral component. You might think that your part doesn’t need editing and you’ll be fine practicing on your own, but that’s a sure-fire way to stress out your group members.

Because you’re working in a group, you have to be courteous. You know how you work and you have been in school long enough to know what kind of work earns you the grade you want. But this just doesn’t apply to a group project. First, at least one person in your group is aiming for an A, so don’t do deliberately mediocre work to mess that up.

Second, even if your part is A worthy, your group members don’t know that and probably want to read it over. Understand that you’re working in a group, which should go without saying, but too many people aren’t concerned enough with their group members. 

Lastly, don’t stress too much. Professors understand how group projects work, and your entire grade won’t depend on a group project. Your professors want you to succeed, and so if you communicate with them as well as your group members, it’ll all work out at the end of the semester.