First day of the new quarter. You find a good place to sit, next to someone who looks cool, but normal enough where they don’t blow you off in a conversation. The teacher hands out the syllabus and you flip through the whole thing quickly, looking for a few key things. 1) Does the teacher take attendance. 2) How many papers, and 3) if there are group projects. Ideally, you would have come across this information on ratemyprofessor.com when you were signing up for classes, but the site’s not foolproof. It can omit even the most important of information on a teacher’s style and type of assignments, but that’s neither here nor there. If the answer to all three of those were no, zero and none, then congratulations to you, Sir, for you have hit the trifecta jackpot, and can now cruise through the quarter. But if not, as in most cases, then you’ve got to put your head down and hope to spin luckier next quarter.
Everyone who has been at college for at least one quarter, most likely has had to do a group project, and they suck. I shouldn’t be so blunt. Group projects give you an opportunity to get to know classmates outside of class and possibly gain new friends. I’ve met several friends at school because of group projects, but that doesn’t mean I don’t roll my eyes to the back of my head when I shuffle through the syllabus and find a group project is waiting for me at the end of the quarter. Sure, group projects are the alternative to a final, but as scary as it sounds, I’d rather take a final.
When the day comes to put your group together you better hope you know some of the people you sit around or else you’re entering the Russian roulette of partners. It’s really unfair if you have to choose on the first day, because then it’s just a free-for-all, lazy indirect eye contact, shoulder shrugs, and “Hey, we need one more; you wanna be with us?”
Once you coalesce into your group, the first person to speak has made the biggest mistake of all. They unknowingly have just taken the leadership role by uttering the simple words of “I guess we should get each others e-mails or something, right?” Once this person realizes their awful mistake, they are now faced with the awkward task of delegating different areas of work to the people that look like they know how to do it.
Teachers say we need group projects for experience, that in the real world we’re gonna have to learn to work in groups at some point or else we’re not going to get anywhere. I’d like to think in the future when I’m out in the real world if the means of supporting myself were on the line with a group project, we’d be able to pull it together and make it work, no matter the obstacles. I plan on inventing the hover board and retiring off that anyways so I think group projects are a waste of my time.
These kinds of projects are the only time in your life when you will be punished for being a responsible person. Once the members start to feel each other out, they can sense who cares about their grade the most and it turns into a game of grade chicken. The first one to say uncle ends up with the load of the work and the rest can skid through by just adding pictures or choosing the theme for the PowerPoint.
I didn’t even mention the daunting task of meeting outside of school, trying to arrange five different people’s schedules so they can meet at a Starbucks at 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and accomplish nothing but partially understanding what to do next.
When the new quarter starts, just pray that you don’t find buried on page six of the syllabus the word group project!