You are sitting in class, listening to a lecture, taking notes, and looking forward to whatever you may be looking forward to at that point in time. Maybe it is a Friday, or a Monday, or any of those days in-between. Your friend decided to sit in the nosebleed section of the lecture hall so they could doze off for a bit. You start to daydream. The clock finally winds down to a couple minutes before class ends. But suddenly the atmosphere changes; something the professor says sends a ripple of weird energy around the room. You vaguely heard what might have been said, but it cannot be. The professor repeats their words: “Next week I will be assigning you to a group for a collaborative project.” The class cringes again (well, at least that section of the class that will be doing the brunt of the work).
Now you are here, and if you are asking how you can actually survive this inevitable fate, you have come to the right place. Below you will find outlined steps on how to go about group projects in college.
Participate in reckless optimism. Imagine yourself with a group of people who will all collaborate effectively and efficiently. Imagine that they all know what is going on, or at least that they are willing to work towards an understanding of what the concepts of the project are. The project will be finished well before the deadline, and you will not be the sole member of the group finishing it the night before it is due. Everything is well with the world.
Hyperventilate as you realize none of the above are likely outcomes.
Stop hyperventilating and realize the success of the project is indeed in your capable hands. You may or may not be placed in a group that works well together, but realize that if you step up as leader, things will run smoothly.
Communicate with your group, often. Make a group chat to schedule meetings. Make sure everyone has an input of when and where the meetings will be (in order to avoid the inevitable “Sorry guys, I have work right now,” or a variation of that).
Delegate tasks to each member of the group. Plan out what needs to be done and start working during meetings. Before leaving the meeting, make sure every person understands what needs to be done and has a task assigned to him or her to continue working on. Do not let one person take over the entire project (and avoid doing this yourself), and at the same time make sure everyone is contributing. Use a tool like Google Docs to stay on track and on top of deadlines.
Do not panic when things are not going smoothly. Communicate with someone if they are taking over the project, or if they are not doing their part.
If you are in the worst-case scenario of the project not being finished the night before it is due, tackle it yourself. If no one else is contributing, still make sure the project gets done. But also don’t be afraid to let your professor know who did and did not contribute.