How To Survive Group Projects In College

Group projects: in college you can’t avoid them, so you might as well make the best of the situation. One big difference I noticed between college and high school was the massive increase in group projects.

At first I was excited about working in groups because in high school they were so easy. But in college, group projects are far more dreaded than essays and exams. Slacking becomes a major issue with group projects because there will always be that one person (or maybe even more) that relies on the other members to pick up their slack.

Since group projects are going to be unavoidable, here are some things you should know prior to working with others…

The Downside

Majority of the time that they’re assigned, you’re going to find yourself surrounded in a group of complete strangers—this makes it hard to fully rely on others to get their work done. I’ve never worked in a group where everyone played an equal role and worked well together. Most times I’ve found myself taking the leadership role and picking up others’ slack. While it’s frustrating putting in the extra effort, sometimes you’ll sacrifice anything to get a good grade. When first meeting and discussing the project, make sure to keep everything organized so each member is on the same page.

Google Docs are a great way to have all the notes in one place where members can access it from their own computers; this is nice because you don’t always have to meet in person, which can become inconvenient. This also creates room for slacking because some meeting should be done in person, but if you guys have a way to communicate through an online document, they might have the attitude that there’s no reason to meet in person.

The Benefits

I’ve been stressing on the negative side of group projects, but that’s not to say there aren’t benefits that can come with it, too. A great thing about working with multiple people is the work gets done faster and you’ll typically end up having to do less work than if you had done the project by yourself. What I’ve also realized is how much can be learned from the other members. You can sometimes almost learn more from them than your professor because you’re working together hands-on, rather than being lectured. While group projects can be more stressful than anything, landing a group with a good work ethic can easily change that.

Once the project is complete, a lot of professors will make students rate their group members with evaluations. These could either make or break you, depending on what you contributed (or didn’t) to the group. It’s best to be honest with evaluations; if a group member didn’t participate at all, say something about it so the professor can divvy up the grades how they should be, which isn’t always evenly. If you struggled with certain members but there’s no evaluation to fill out, contacting your professor either in person or through email could be beneficial.  Just remember—evaluations can also break you, so don’t be that group member that slacks!

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Jordyn Timpson

Jordyn Timpson

Jordyn Timpson is a junior at Michigan State University working towards her journalism degree with a specialization in documentary film. She designs and writes for a campus magazine and is a server at Bob Evans. When Jordyn has free time she likes to watch movies and her favorite show Breaking Bad, spend hours on tumblr, go on adventures with friends and travel.
Jordyn Timpson

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