Is it you or you or you? Here’s how to pick your group for a school project

By Mary Kate Whelan - Ward Melville High School

Every high school has cliques. There are jocks, nerds, loners, and stoners; while these terms are stereotypical, and offensive to some, a majority of students can identify with one of the aforementioned categories. Most people prefer to stay within their group, however when it comes to group projects, you should try and venture beyond your circle, and make new acquaintances.

Frequent Issues With Group Projects

It is very common to see one person do all the work in a group project which leads to the discussion on why the entire group receives the same grade. It is unfair that the member that does no work will get the same score as the person that does all the work, and this is why most people may chose to form a group with their friends. However, working with your friends is a worse choice for many reasons.

If you form a group and pick people you are close with, there is a higher chance of the work not getting done. If your best friend is a chatterbox, not as smart as you, and lazy, is he/she really the best person to work with? No because it is very probable that you will be the person that does the entire project and hands over a good grade to someone else. Additionally, friends are distractions and may lead to procrastination.

However, this is not to say that you can’t ever collaborate with your companions, I just suggest you form a group depending on who you think will help you out, and share the responsibility. Not leave you in the dust.

Who You Should Think About

When forming a group, you may want to try and include someone a little bit brighter than you, but for the most part, keep all your members within the same rage of intellect. For the same reason that you don’t want to be the smartest member, don’t place the burden on someone else’s shoulder. If you find people that think the way you do, and receive the same grades as you do, your group work will be much more successful.

How to Tackle Group Projects

After you solidify a balanced group, you need to think about dividing the workload. Every group needs a leader, so don’t be afraid to take charge. Creating clear lists of tasks for each group member when you initially obtain the assignment will lessen confusion when it becomes crunch time. It is important to understand what the assignment is as well, so if any questions pop up, make sure to ask your teacher, or boss, as soon as possible.

Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

~Vince Lombardi

It is also necessary to meet with your group. Whether you use Google Docs, Skype, or meet in person, it is imperative that you maintain frequent contact. Keep in mind that you are not the only person working on the assignment, so it is important that you collaborate periodically. Additionally, set checkpoints throughout the length of the assignment so that you know when you should have a certain task done, or when one of your classmates should be finished.

The Importance of Group Projects in a Professional Setting

Nowadays most of you are only in high school, so every group assignment has been graded, for a teacher. If you miss a due date or pick a bad group, it doesn’t matter all that much. However, as you graduate high school, and later college, you will face more group assignments, and more collaborative tasks for which a deadline could make or break your career.

In the “real world,” you are not always going to get a second chance. Sometimes, one mistake can be your only mistake and lead to your unemployment. However, if you pick your group wisely and make sure to truly work together, you will succeed in your task, and be able to efficiently work with new people in the future.

Being able to work in a group is a skill every individual should acquire, so learn early and be successful. These basic skills can determine your future so why not learn them now?