Surviving the atrocity that is group projects

By Rebecca Campo on November 18, 2015

Everyone has at some point had to do a group project, whether it be a poster, powerpoint, speech, essay, etc. You may be one of the few people who cheers at the announcement of a group project. Or you may be in the majority that groans. Whether or not you like them, group projects are practice for the real world where, yes, you will have to work with your peers. It is a scary thought. Here are a few things that may help you to survive group projects:

Friend or Foe

Every once in awhile you will hear those magical words: “you may pick your groups.” But is this really a good thing? Keep in mind that it may be much easier to be distracted when working with a group of friends than it would be with a group you don’t know as well. On the other hand, it may be easier to insist a friend do their part than to stand up to someone you don’t know. Think about what kind of worker you are when selecting your groups: will you be able to focus around friends or will you spend you time chatting? Will you be able to assert yourself better around people you have a purely professional relationship with or around people you’re friendly with?

Contact Information

If you end up in a group with people you don’t really know, the first step is trading contact information. Whether its phone numbers, emails, etc., you need a way to get in touch in case something comes up and you have to change meeting times, add meeting times, share research, ask a question, specify your responsibilities, whatever! You do not want to be finishing up your project in the three minutes before class starts.

Sharing the Workload

This part is essential. From day 1 you should start to schedule out who will do what part of the work. If it’s not specified what is each person’s responsibility, you can bet someone will end up doing an unfair proportion of the work.


Time Tables

While you’re figuring out who’s doing what, you may want to figure out when. Depending on the project, one person’s part may require someone else’s part already being completed. This can create an issue if some people in the group like to get a head start on things and others prefer to work last minute.

Stand up for Yourself

If you find that someone is not following these standards (not doing their share, not doing it on time, or just being disrespectful of the group), don’t be scared to speak up for yourself. There’s no reason they should get to do less of the work–regardless of their other commitments (they should have mentioned it when you were figuring out the schedule).

English Major at Gettysburg College Class of 2019

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