Group projects breed terror in most students’ hearts. “Anything but group projects,” we plead. “I’ll work extra hard and do it myself, but please don’t make me have to work in a group.”

In a perfect world, group projects would be no problem. There would be no conflict, no one would be slacking, and things would run smoothly according to schedule. Yeah, right... in a perfect world. Who lives in that?

The reality is that you can’t get away from group projects in university or college. So what’s a student to do?

Here’s what some students had to say about surviving and thriving in your group work:

"For starters, make a team charter"

Says Becky, a British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) Financial Management student. Before you even start working on your project, sit down with your teammates and create a charter that encompasses things like:

Exercise flexibility

“Being patient is huge. Don’t take things so personally when people shoot your ideas down,” Ying from the University of British Columbia says. BCIT Refrigerator Repair student Sarah adds, “Listen to people - don’t always think that you are the only one who is right.” "Compromising is key,” agrees, Breanne from Trinity Western University. “But make sure you don’t do all the work yourself.”

Determine strengths and work with them

First, figure out what needs to be done on the project. Then assign each person in your group a responsibility according to their abilities. Vic, a Business student from University College of the Fraser Valley, believes it’s helpful to find out what people are good at and then assign roles accordingly. For example, someone who is good at writing reports, but hates research, should not be stuck doing all the research. Allow each person to develop his or her abilities within your group.

Set deadlines

Each group member should know exactly when their assignment needs to be done. This establishes clear boundaries and helps to prevent stress caused by leaving everything to the last minute.

Take the lead if needed

So what if you get stuck in a group with a couple of slackers in it who really don’t care about how the project goes? ”Become the group leader,” says Rose, a Business Management student at BCIT. By taking leadership, you will get the chance to expand your leadership capabilities and ensure that work gets done. And what if your other group members have nothing to contribute? ”Usually, everyone has something to say,” Rose says. “But if group members aren’t responding, encourage them to contribute by asking them directly by name for their ideas.”

Stay positive

Refrain from gossiping about other members and try to help one another as much as you can. After all, who knows? You may even come out of the experience with a friend or two.

Do you need to talk? Connect with a mentor today. We’re here to listen and to encourage you. It’s confidential and free.

This article was written by: Kristin Feenstra

Photo Credit: Climate KIC