‘Tis the season not for jingle bells nor Santa, but for endless projects and assignments. With finals week in sight, you’ve probably got those deadlines for end-of-the-semester projects quickly approaching. If you’re lucky, these are solo assignments, with the only person to blame for being lazy and unmotivated being yourself. Given that the universe is especially cruel to college students at this time of the year, realistically you have a slew of dreaded group projects due next week, with your entourage consisting of the girl who texts all through the lecture and the guy who hasn’t shown up for class since the first day. So what’s a college kid to do? You want to pass the class, but you don’t want to wind up doing the whole project by yourself and risk being labeled that nerdy overachiever. Fear not, dear readers, because I’ve compiled a list of ways to survive group projects while keeping your sanity intact!
1. Slide into those DM’s (aka get contact info)
As soon as you get assigned to a group, get everyone’s phone number and set up a group chat. Some people, for some strange reason, don’t check their school emails as often as they should. This means that it’s difficult to contact people through this mode of communication and work out project details. However, seeing that this is 2015 and it takes real effort not to check your phone every 10 minutes, texting to finalize plans is the ideal method of organizing group projects. So snag those digits as soon as class is over.
2. Be clear with your expectations
When doling out responsibilities for the project, don’t give vague deadlines. Avoid saying things like “Send this to me before tomorrow.” Instead, be more direct and say, “Send this to me by 9:00 tonight.” Once it hits 9:01 p.m. and your inbox is still empty, you can release your wrath.
3. Ration out work fairly
Look, it’s not fair to give the “overachiever” in your group the whole paper to write, no matter how much your group members don’t want to participate. Then the other members of the group are basically cruising down easy street and receiving a good grade on an assignment they barely completed. Instead, separate the project into equal parts so each person does the same amount of work. Just be sure to proofread the entire project before turning it in to make sure the whole thing flows together.
4. Meet Up for Final Assembly
In that aforementioned group chat, send out a message asking to review the entire project together once it’s completed. Be direct and schedule a place and time (“Can we meet at the library on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.?”) just to look over everything and work out any kinks for the presentation. Yes, it might be considered a “goody-two-shoes” move, but it will help make everyone feel more prepared for the presentation.
5. Make sure everyone is ~in the loop~
True story: I was presenting part of my group thesis this past semester. One group member thought the presentation started at 8:30 a.m. instead of 8:00 a.m., causing widespread panic within the group. Luckily, this person is a power sprinter and was able to make it to the building even before our professor had time to sit down and open his briefcase. Phew. To avoid this, make sure your fellow group members know when and where you’re presenting. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can even coordinate outfits and earn brownie points for being super professional.
6. Tattle wisely
Sometimes things happen and you just can’t get a group member to take a project seriously. It’s like the old saying: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it write its share of the presentation.” In these circumstances, it’s time to approach your professor. Conceal any animosity and calmly explain the situation to the professor. Most likely, he or she already has an inkling that this person is a bit of a slacker, and will figure out an ethical way to grade the assignment. To avoid this situation, it’s best to voice any concerns you have within the group as they arise. Don’t internalize these things; they’ll drive you nuts.
These are my tips for surviving those dreaded end-of-the-year group projects. May your presentations be successful, your group members competent, and your grades excellent. Good luck!