Dos and Don’ts of Working in Groups

Working in groups is one of the many things you will have to do in college. In any profession, knowing how to work closely with others is a skill you will need to have. Group projects in college teach compromise, communication and deadlines. If you see you have a group project coming up soon, use these tips to get yourself prepared.

Do meet up as soon as possible

As soon as you know who your teammates are, schedule a meeting within the next few days. It’s easy to use other classes, extracurricular activities, jobs, friends and family as excuses because you do not want to face the inevitable work. But no matter what, you have to work on this project, and the sooner you can start working, the better. Be sure to assign roles within the group, create deadlines and plan more meet ups.

Don’t be frustrated with each conflicting schedules

Because of the factors mentioned above, it may be hard to nail down a time to meet. Maybe the only time that works for all members of the group is at 9:00 p.m. on a Tuesday or at 10:00 a.m. on a Sunday. Everyone will have to compromise. It might be annoying at first to pick a time, but it is better than waiting until the last minute only to realize that you have to spend an entire weekend locked in a library to finish the work.

Do check in with your group mates

Life happens. One class may start taking over your life and you have to push the project to the side. That is why your group should periodically check in with each other for the status of the individual parts of the projects. Is someone struggling to get their section finished? This would be the best time for the team to help them complete their task for the good of the group.

Don’t act like a parent

If you have a member of your group who is not checking in, communicating and missing classes, this is not your time to act as their parent. Even if you aren’t the team leader, you can contact them and check in and see how progress is going. But if they are not answering, it is not your job to scold them. If it’s clear that this peer is probably going to drop the class, your group as a whole should talk to your instructor. Why waste your time being angry at your group mate if they have already decided they are not going to do their part?

Do practice a presentation

If part of your project is that you make a formal presentation, you should practice before the big day. Take time to determine what everyone will be experts on for the presentation. Determining everyone’s role will also help when tackling hard questions from the instructor or from classmates. Plus, it makes your team look cohesive and prepared.

Don’t wing it

Watching a group totally bomb a presentation is one of the more cringe-inducing moments you will face in class. It becomes clear that only one person thought about the project if they are the only person presenting and answering questions.

And most importantly, don’t be “that group member”

If you shirk your responsibility and lay it on to your team, you are hurting everyone including yourself. A “C” may mean nothing to you if you have been acing the rest of the class on your own. To others, they may need the grade for one reason or another — scholarships, honor societies, required minimums for clubs, to name a few. As for yourself, if you put no effort in, the rest of your class will take notice. In the future, they won’t want to work with you in not only that class. If you are in a health program at school, chances are you will be taking those classes with these peers for the whole four years, so don’t get yourself blacklisted.

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