How to Survive Group Projects

I’m about a year away from being done with school, hopefully for a long time.  That means I’ve done my fair share of group projects, and with the professors I have, I know there are more in my future.  No one likes group projects, myself included, but it’s just one of things that must be done.  And it can be good practice, since many jobs require teams to work together on projects anyway.  In my experience, these are the best ways to make it through a group project without wanting to pull everyone’s hair out.

  1. Don’t be afraid to take the lead.  Especially when I was younger, no one in a group wanted to be responsible for making decisions, but someone inevitably has to be able to keep everyone on track.
  2. Start having group meetings before you think you need to.  Group projects are usually big ones, and projects that include a lot of people are always going to take longer.  That’s just human.  Get projects rolling well in advance of the due date.
  3. Delegate.  If you need to split up the work, make sure everyone has an equal and specific part to do.  Let me repeat that: always make sure everyone in the group knows exactly what they are responsible for.  This will hopefully eliminate day-of-presentation comments like, “I thought Sheila was going to do that!”
  4. Set deadlines for yourselves.  Many times parts of a project need to be sent to one group member to finalize.  Make sure everyone knows they must get their parts done a few days ahead of the final deadline so the finalizer doesn’t have to pull an all-nighter to finish the project.
  5. Be respectful of your group members.  This doesn’t mean you always have to agree, but it means you should always listen to everyone’s ideas.  Take your group members seriously.
  6. Finally, don’t be afraid to call someone out.  If someone isn’t pulling their weight, even after you’ve made sure they know their assignments and deadlines, talk to them.  Maybe there is something else going on in their life, and maybe not, but it’s always better to try to resolve problems within the group before going to the professor.

Group projects can be grueling, but they’ve gotta be done.  And thank the dear Lord — no matter how bad your group members are, group projects always end.

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