Well, it’s time for the dreaded group assignment. Chances are, you fall into one of two categories:
- Been there, done that, got your resting bitch face ready
- A group assignment virgin who still believes that human beings are inherently decent (ahhh such naivety)
Either way, it’s very likely that at some point you’re going to find yourself with a rather strong urge to strangle some (or all) of your group. Here’s three simple steps to try and avoid that.
Step 1: Set a leader
As much we like to envision group projects as idyllic democracies where everyone gets an equal say, in truth they’re much more like autocracies where one person yells at everyone else until the work gets done. The truth is you want a leader in your group. You need someone who is happy to make the final call and just start doing stuff, otherwise it is super easy to get into a situation where you all sit around and say ‘I dunno, what do you want to do?’ to each other until you die.
Every group needs someone to initiate the ‘hey we should meet up’ convo in the group chat and then bug everyone when they don’t respond. Someone to follow up with the other group members to make sure that they’re on track. Someone who makes sure that everything is done on time – this last point is especially important in group projects, where elements of the project often build on each other, meaning that if one person stuffs up the whole thing can completely fall apart.
Now, don’t make it so that the leader just sits on their arse and does nothing but yell at people; they also need to contribute while maintaining a timeline. But having a leader will not only help everyone in the group stay on track, but also quickly determine solutions in case someone has an unexpected illness, and help consolidate the different ideas that everyone has.
Step 2: TRUST NO ONE
So granted that heading is a bit extreme, but really, you gotta have you own back. Imagine the worst-case scenario: nobody does a single vital part of the assignment, and it all falls onto your shoulders. With group assignments, there’s often a pretty strong feeling of “ah someone else can fix it” across the group—something I definitely learnt the hard way.
In one of my econ classes last year, literally no-one in my group fully understood the question till 3 days before the due date. While we were all waiting for someone else to do it, work on the assignment had basically ground to a halt. Thankfully, our tutor responded to our frantic email the weekend before the deadline, so we got our questions cleared quickly – but don’t bank on this. Tutors are only human and may not reply for a while, which can cause massive issues.
Step 3: Have fun!(?)
You don’t NEED to hate your group. I’ve actually met some really good friends through group projects. Nothing brings people together quite like the collective trauma of discovering that UberEats doesn’t deliver the one particular food you crave to campus.
Something one of my groupmates once insisted on was that we worked at the Rowdy. We weren’t really allowed to eat there, but the environment was great – we could solve one of the puzzles lying around on our breaks! And if you’re really stressed and need a super break, I have three words for you: Virtual. Reality. Headsets.
Just for kicks, you can also disguise your attempts to sample coffee from around campus by constantly suggesting new meeting spots to your group. There are some solid places I’ve found on these trips, like House of Cards and Standing Room. I also highly endorse Baretto in Alan Gilbert – it’s got decent coffee and tables to work at.
So there you have it. Group assignments can be survived, if done right. Best of luck with them and let us know how you feel after you finish yours!
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