Ah, group projects. Just those two words can make even the bravest of college students shudder, whether they’re spoken by your professor on the first day of class or staring up at you in bolded font from the syllabus. It’s no secret that group projects can be one of the worst parts of any class, no matter how much professors like to claim that it prepares you for your career. It’s true that once you’re out of college and (hopefully) working at your first job, you’re probably going to be working with other people a lot more often than you did in high school, and it’s definitely a skill to learn sooner rather than later. That said, group projects can be tough, so here are a few tips and tricks to help you make the most of them.
- Don’t be afraid to take charge. Nine times out of ten, someone in the group will need to take charge of the project, unless your group is very small, or the project is very laid back. It might be you, or it might be that classmate who wants to be in charge of everything but try not to take over the project – it’s enough just to keep everyone on track and help divide up tasks.
- Set a schedule (and stick to it). Obviously, things are going to come up. And when you don’t want to be part of the group project in the first place, it can be tempting to let other plans take up time that you should be spending on the project. Try not to do this – once your group has set a time to meet, make it a priority.
- Do your part. Once the parts of the project have been divided up and everyone has agreed on who is doing what, make sure you actually complete your part. If something serious comes up and you truly aren’t able to, try to let your group (and possibly the professor) know as soon as possible, so that other members can help out.
- Whatever you do, don’t procrastinate. I know, I know – we’re college students, and it can seem like procrastination is the one thing we can always rely on. But it isn’t good when you’re doing homework, and it certainly isn’t good for group projects! Everyone has busy schedules, so the longer you wait the less likely you are to find a good time to meet.
- Be honest in reviews. If you professor offers you the opportunity (or even makes it a requirement) to fill out reviews of your group members after the project is over, take advantage of it! This is the best time to tell your professor who pulled their weight and who didn’t, or who went above and beyond to complete the project.
- Stay in touch with your professor. You should be taking advantage of your professor’s office hours anyway, but especially during a group project. Whether you go individually or as a group, your professor is the best person to ask if you have questions about the project or need help. And if you’re having a problem with a group member who isn’t contributing or refuses to meet with the group, bring it up to the professor right away.
Group projects are probably never going to be the most fun part of the semester, that’s for sure. But there are ways to make them easier, especially if you remember that your group members probably feel the same way you do. They’re a pretty common part of a lot of college classes (not to mention many careers), so learning how to handle group projects is so important!