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.

How To: Time Management

Pinterest and social media are full of funny little infographics on how college is a triangle and you can only pick two out of social life, good grades, and sleep.

And it’s true.

Kind of.

Now for starters, I am no way an expert in Time Management. It is a skill that I have learned and am still finding my way around as each new semester has its new challenges.

I can however give you some tips on how to manage your time and be on the path for being a successful student at Iowa.

  1. Get an agenda/planner/notebook

    Monthly Calendar View
    Monthly Calendar View

You can choose whatever method you like in order to keep track of dates, deadlines, and appointments. There are also other popular methods like google calendar (which you can sync to your smart phone).

  1. You’re going to use your agenda to write down all club meetings, exam dates, work schedules, and whatever else is going to take up your time.
  2. Follow your agenda and prep accordingly.

On a day to day basis, I like to write in my agenda about what I need to do to be prepared for classes, work, and club meeting for the next day. On the weekends, I put a sticky note in my agenda and write down all the things I want to accomplish in order to be prepared for the following week.

  1. Reap the rewards!

Last week, I was so on top of things due to this method that I had all of my homework done for the week by Tuesday night and was able to relax Wednesday. This also allowed for having the time to care for myself but also have the time to do any assignments that were assigned during the week and due soon after.