3 Simple Tips For Handling Group Projects in College

Throughout my years in school there has always been one particular kind of assignment that I absolutely dread: group projects!

You get paired up with other random students in the class, are given an assignment and somehow expected to work together to get the job done. You have to not only work together to finish the project, but you have to work together to split up duties and schedule times to meet up. It can be a real pain and a major factor of stress.

Group projects become even more difficult in college since everyone’s school schedules are different and everyone has jobs and other responsibilities to attend to. Personally, group projects have been even more tiring for me since I commute 2 hours to my college. Overtime I have had my fair share of conflicting schedules, hard to work with partners and plenty of other downfalls.

Okay, so I may have made group projects appear to be near impossible to deal with. However, throughout my experiences I have found great ways to ease the pain and make the situation less stressful.

#1 Exchange Info

Everyone in the group should pull out a piece of paper and get these pieces of information from their group members. This is a vital step in making group projects run smoothly.

  • Names. This seems obvious, but getting everyone’s first and last name is important.
  • Email. Everyone has one. They are an essential part of college. This will make communication easier and quicker.
  • Phone. Texting/phone calls are the easiest ways to get a hold of others if you are out an about.

 #2 Organize Duties

  • Take the Lead. If everyone is just sitting there staring at each other and no one else has taken the lead, take it yourself. Leadership is important when it comes to group projects and not all groups are going to have someone willing to take it on. Be proactive, and take the project by the horns. You may feel like taking leadership only hands more work to yourself, but in the long run it will make life a lot easier. Trust me!
  • Create an Outline. One thing I like to do if I end up taking leadership is creating an outline of the project. I will usually do it as soon as possible, email it out to the group and see what they all think. Most of the time a group project can be divided into equal roles or sections where each person is given a certain part to take on. I will usually start by asking everyone what they would be interested in doing. If they don’t care, I’ll just assign them a section. The way to avoid feeling like a control freak is by asking them if they are okay with their duties. At first I found it difficult to tell people what to do, but it’s truly the only way to get organized if they won’t tell you. Just be friendly and nice about it.
  • Plan a Meeting Time (if possible). This is probably the number one most difficult part to deal with. I’ve found situations where it is merely impossible to get every group member together at the same time to work on a project. Depending on the project, there are many instances where you may not need to meet up as a group. Splitting up the duties is one thing that makes this possible. Giving everyone a part of the assignment allows each member of the group to do their part on their time. At the end, I will usually have everyone send me their part by a certain time, and I’ll put together the assignment or presentation or whatever the project may be.

If you are, however, successful at setting up a time to meet with everyone well then more power to you! Take advantage of your time. Having an outline will help your meeting flow smoother, faster and allow everyone to be on the same page.

Doing group projects apart from one another is very possible in many situations. If you have that option I highly suggest you take full advantage of it. Communication is key in order to make this work which brings me to number 3…

#3 Use the Internet

  • I believe the number one best way to communicate over the internet is through Skype. 

If you are going to be working separately on the project, Skype is a great way to have group conversations to keep everyone happy and in the know. Skype is easy to use and free to download. I consider it a college essential!

Getting a group of 4 to 5 or even more people together on a specific day at a specific time can stressful. It’s always been hard for me since I’m usually only on campus twice a week and work in my home town all the other days. Everyone else has other projects, assignments, jobs and extracurricular activities as well.

In my experience, it truly isn’t necessary to meet face to face with your group members all the time. With technology such a huge part of our lives these days it would only make sense to take advantage of it.

Just remember: take information and keep thorough communication with everyone in your group.

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Molly Stallman

Molly Stallman

Molly Stallman is a senior at DePaul University working toward an English degree with an emphasis on Creative Writing. She also has a minor in Digital Cinema. Molly especially enjoys spending time with loved ones, listening to music, watching movies/television and playing with her dogs. She also has a passion for antiques, crafts, animals, photography and the great outdoors.

One Response to “3 Simple Tips For Handling Group Projects in College”

  • Carmen Bojanowski

    Carmen Bojanowski on January 2, 2013

    Group projects are always such a hassle, because not everyone utilizes all of these tools! I don’t have a Skype account, and never really thought of making one until I read this. Maybe I’ll make one when the semester starts and it’ll make upcoming group projects that much easier.

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