It’s that time of the year when library room reservations are filling up, stress is becoming palpable throughout the air on campus and I’m starting to panic because I just found out I have another essay due the week of finals.
It’s also the time of the year when group projects are in full swing.
I’ve hated group projects for as long as I can remember. Having to rely on the competency of my fellow classmates is something that sets my anxiety off. And knowing that my grade can be affected by someone else’s work is almost enough to send me to the hospital.
The main reason I hate group projects is because of the uncertainty that defines them. If you’re assigned a good group, people that you know are hardworking and dedicated, then I love the experience. I prefer it. In fact, I would sell my soul to work on all major projects with the classmates I know will exceed my expectations, the friends I know will go above and beyond to make our paper shine. The times where we’re able to choose our groups – those are the good times.
But not all group projects are created equal, so not all group projects are “the good times.”
Those other times – the bad times – are when you get paired with group members who genuinely don’t care what grade they receive. They have little to no remorse for not finishing their assigned section and they feel no obligation to contribute to the project whatsoever.
The chance of getting a bad group is too high for me. The fact that group projects can either be amazing or ruinous is a risk that I don’t want to take. As much as I love “the good times,” I can’t run the risk of “the bad times.”
Texting your group-mates, “When are you free to meet this week?” on a constant loop without any response is my version of suffering. Having to balance everyone’s schedules, figuring out a time that works, then finding a suitable place – that’s my hell. Eventually, your group ends up meeting in the bookable study rooms for 30 minutes. You sit in complete silence while one person types furiously in the shared Google Doc while the other two members sit on their phones, contributing next to nothing. And then I’m annoyed that they’re getting credit for doing nothing.
After this, you’re left frantically texting your group, “Did everyone do their section?” at 11:58 p.m. while simultaneously panicking and wishing you took a different class.
And then, when it comes time for peer evaluations, I feel too bad to give a poor review to my slacker classmates. Even if they literally contributed nothing to our assignment, I can’t bring myself to give them a negative grade. I can’t do it. I’m weak.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times where I’m grateful for group projects. They alleviate some of the stress involved, they lighten our overall workload and they promote bonding with classmates.
But genuinely – genuinely – I’d rather do the work on my own.
I would rather have full control over what’s written, what’s researched and what is submitted. I would rather have the ability to ensure that work being submitted under my name is entirely mine. I would rather eliminate the part where I scan through the document at 11:59 p.m. right before it’s submitted to double-check that everyone did their part. It takes a lot of faith to submit an assignment without making sure that it’s up to my standards. It takes faith that I do not have.
Maybe someday I’ll learn to let go and let others take the reins. Maybe someday I’ll feel comfortable submitting B+ work. Call me a control freak, but that’s why I hate group projects.