That Group Project (and how to Survive)

You know the one I’m talking about.

The one where somehow you ended up doing the majority of the work and it seems like your fellow group members don’t care.

The type that inspires memes like “I want my group members at my funeral to let me down one last time.”

That group project.

We’ve all been there. But for whatever reason, I was really struck by this one.

In one of my classes this semester we were assigned two group projects over the course of the semester. They would make up the bulk of our grade besides the exams and low weight homework assignments.

If you don’t know it already, Google Drive will be your best friend for any and all group projects. It allows for real time collaboration and should eliminate most of the need to meet with your group out of class.

The first group project was a slight headache. Some members neglected to show up to the meetings and were full of excuses. Not the greatest first impression but things come up in life. Taking that into account, there is still the expectation that your work gets done. Unfairly, I had a hand in completing a majority of this first project. I can’t help that a type A tendency hits me when I participate in a group project: I want timeliness, good work, and overall cooperation. For whatever reason, I was willing to let it slide.

Looking back, I’m starting to think that perhaps that was one of my initial mistakes with this group. It should be noted here that I did remedy my feelings a little bit by talking directly to my group members that similar behavior would not fly with the next project. Additionally I talked to my professor after class the last period before thanksgiving break (and before our second project would be due). I discussed with my group members—and later my professor—that we would try to get the project done earlier (it was, after all, due the Sunday after Thanksgiving and we would shoot to have it completed by the Monday before) and divvy up the parts so everyone only has a small part to do.

The true stomach-dropping-on-a-rollercoaster-feeling didn’t occur until the Sunday after Thanksgiving break about our second group project. I had completed my part by the previous Monday and had urged my peers throughout the week to complete their portions. Come Sunday night, only two other members had completed their portions of the project—leaving a majority of our project undone. If you’re anything like me, you’ll know this is where the sick, nervous feeling starts to set in. I was wildly upset. I sent an email to my professor, explaining the situation and how we would not meet the deadline. I then spent a portion of the night and the next day, working on the missing parts of the project. It wasn’t perfect and might have been had my group members pulled their own weight. But I’m not upset anymore because I learned how to deal with it.

Here are my tips for dealing with bad group members:

  1. Do stay in contact with them. Do the extra nagging to keep them on task. Yes, you’re not anyone’s mom but at least it will serve as your proof that you made an attempt.
  2. Do use google drive. It keeps record of who worked on what and when and can also serve as your proof come peer evaluations.
  3. Do talk to your professor. My professor has been incredibly understanding and helpful in this situation and how to go about rectifying it. In a situation where you may feel powerless, there is someone to help you out.
  4. Do your work: don’t contribute to a lacking group and look out for yourself. Good work ethic is not a hard skill to master and will contribute to life later on.
  5. Rest easy; Karma and peer evaluations are a thing and will help in righting the world.

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