You probably ignored it when you glanced at the syllabus: the group project requirement. The end of the semester is here and you’re scrambling to register for classes, study for exams and get the members of your group together. Group projects fall somewhere between pop quizzes and research papers on the type of assignments college students hate. Even if you get lucky and pick your own group, organizing meetings and making progress can be difficult with our hectic schedules. But there are five foolproof ways to make working in groups painless.
Divide & Conquer
It can seem ideal to let everyone in the group freely contribute, but that leads to confusion. Structure is key. Make sure everyone has specific parts of the PowerPoint and their own talking points prepared. Equal amounts of input eliminate tension over who does the most work. It also stops the type As from taking over the project.
Trade Contact Info ASAP
As soon as you form a group in class, take a minute to start a group text or set up a Facebook message. This may seem obvious, but if you’re not communicating with everyone, chances are one or two members can miss the memo about the next group meeting. Later on in the process, consider creating a Google Doc. Having an easy way to tell everyone about guidelines or last minute changes keeps everyone in the loop.
We all know that member who doesn’t reply to the group texts. Finally, you meet them on presentation day. Go to the meetings! If you can’t make it or you’re running late, just take a minute to shoot the members an e-mail.
Check Your Ego
We have conflicting ideas when we work alone, but, ultimately, you decide the final direction. It’s crushing to blurt out an idea you think the group’s work should go in, only to get shut down. Working in groups helps you take in constructive criticism. Keep that in mind and don’t completely withdraw your opinions from the brainstorming session just because the team didn’t go with your initial idea. One of the pluses of collaborating with others is that the different perspectives allow us to feed off of everyone else’s ideas and improve them.
Get to Know the Group
With the stress of the end of the semester, your mindset towards group projects can be that go-getter, let’s finish this as quickly as possible attitude. We’re all guilty of this, but don’t be the rude one that only wants to talk about the project. Briefly chat with the others and get to know them personally. Forced bonding helps steer the final project along. If there are a lot of group members, at least try to know all their names.
In the end, group projects will help build your interpersonal skills and you’ll be proud of your group’s creative outcome. Professors have said it before, but group projects help prepare you for the “real world,” where you’ll be working with colleagues daily on tasks. Keep these group survival tactics in mind so you don’t dread working with others.