Please! Not another group project…

By Anne Dudley

Group project after group project after group project! I have three this semester alone!! Who on earth thought a college student’s schedule would work well with group projects?!?!?!

We get it. You’re a student. You’re juggling 4 or 5 other classes. You may have a job or an internship. And, you’re the whosey-whats-it-called in that something-or-other organization.  On top of that you have a significant other, a social life, a car, a dog, a phobia of interpersonal contact and germs, and YOU have to do a group project.

Well sir, or madam, listen here: LIFE IS A GROUP PROJECT (or at least I think so).

I’m sorry to say it but the jury’s out on this one, we all know group projects stink, but when they say this will prepare you for your future, they (whoever “they” are) are right.

Picture yourself 5 years down the road sitting a conference table, discussing the very important whatchyamacallit and its future at whatchayamacalled. Joe Blow, your boss, asks your opinion on the subject. You, shocked, take your finger out of your nose, glance down at the agenda, the only thing you brought to this meeting, and frantically try to think of something relevant to say to save yourself, and your job.

NOBODY wants this to happen.  So now is the time to practice.

Here’s what you need to know to survive group projects:

1. Volunteer SOMETHING – Help get the ball rolling by volunteering to do something. It can be anything, even as simple as: I’ll take notes and email them to the group, I’ll get us a room at the library, or I’ll run our ideas past the Prof. to see how we’re doing. Be involved.

2. Position – Take a position. Make it up for yourself if you have to. Take charge of something. Ex. the research articles & Works Cited, the PowerPoint, group snacks, whatever.

3. Speak – TALK to your group. Silence at the roundtable will only make this take longer.

4. Schedule Early– Scheduling is always a problem for college group projects. Meet early on, or for 5 minutes after each class, and get started. If you think meeting is hard now, think about how hard it will be to meet four times the week before it’s due!?!

5. Practice – If you’re giving a speech, or even a simple synopsis of what your group did, DO NOT WING IT. Run through once. It will make it enormously easier to do it again in front of your Prof.

When you’re working on that next group paper, keep your eye on the prize. Practice makes perfect. Some day, when you’re leading a team of writers, designers, or whomever, hopefully what you learned now will be worth it.

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