Remember those times in high school when your teacher assigned a group project and it was only to be done during class time? Yeah, that doesn’t happen in college.
I’m currently working in a semester-long multi-faceted partner project for my impossible Spanish class. Not only does this class require a ton of extra work just to understand what’s going on, but I’m also paired with someone who works full time and takes all evening and weekend classes. Needless to say, finding times to meet that work for both of us is quite a task.
I can’t complain too much because my partner is actually fantastic. For someone so swamped with school and work, she’s great about managing her time and always does her fair share of the work.
But sometimes we’re not so lucky. In addition to this great but sometimes stressful partnership, I’m in a three-person semester-long group project for my international business class. You know how my Spanish partner pulls her weight and always does her fair share? Well, with these two it’s the polar opposite.
This class, “The Global Marketplace,” has two midterms. For each of the midterm reviews, every group is required to write a multiple-choice question and turn it in before the review.
Well, for the first review, my group never answered any of my emails and we didn’t get the question in on time. So that was a bummer. Then, for the second review, neither partner answered my emails – once again – and I simply sent the question to the professor and cc’d them on the email. Thanks for your help, guys!
So I have some advice when it comes to group projects in college. Granted, sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you try to be respectful, organized and on top of your game – some people just don’t get it.
Plan from the Get Go
The second you get your syllabus – or at least within the first few weeks – get together with your partner and figure out when you want to do a preliminary meeting, just to talk about what you’re plan of action is. At the end of that meeting, plan your next meeting. Don’t tell them you’ll “be in touch,” plan it right then and there. And make sure you see them write it down in their planner, notebook or phone, and exchange phone numbers. Just because your partner may look put together does not mean he or she is dependable or won’t forget about your meeting.
Consult Your Professors
Just because you’re told that professors won’t baby you in college doesn’t mean they’re not helpful or they don’t want you to succeed. They are there to help you. So if, say, your partner never showed up for your meeting and you haven’t spoken to him in days, it’s probably time to at least ask your professor what you should do. It’s possible they’ll tell you to – more or less – suck it up. But, most likely, they’ll figure out a better option.
Sometimes partners don’t work out simply because your schedules are too different. It doesn’t have to be awkward. Your partner will probably want to make a change as well. Simply go to your professor together and explain that it’s hard to be productive and get things done because you have totally different availability.
Divide the Work Fairly
This one’s a no-brainer once you get to college. But I vividly remember choosing to do all of the work in high school because outside input was just too stressful. But high school was a different story all together, as we all know. Your professors don’t consult each other and see what kind of workload you have before assigning a project, presentation, exam and paper all on the same day. So there’s no way you’re going to offer to do the majority of a project.
Make sure you’re familiar with the material before meeting with your partner or group and get a rough idea of what each other’s strengths are. Division is especially easy when the project requires a PowerPoint. Just outline your slides and decide who’s responsible for which slides. Never do more work than you need to. Another person’s success is not your resonsiblity.
Category: College Confab