Pick Your Partners
They say never work with animals or children. Or your friends, who can sometimes act a little like both. Although you may love them in the Crow Bar or on Macca’s runs or at the movies, you plus your friends may not equal the best classroom combo. Even if your interests are similar outside of work hours, make sure you consider how you work inside that lecture hall before signing up to do a project together. Think about whether you have the same learning styles, if you’re prone to arguing, if you have different academic priorities, and if it’s worth risking your friendship just so you can spend a few extra hours together. Even if you do get along great, you’re always running the risk that your study time will be taken over by cracking jokes, reminiscing, and planning your outfits for the next Friday Unwind. Like any decision, there are benefits to both sides, but before you give your bestie that ‘we’re in this together’ look, try considering some of the other students in your class as study buddies.
Hold Your Ground
Don’t forget, this is your mark on the line too. This is the scariest part of group work. Your grade is going to be decided by how well other people do their job. Which is why you have to work extra hard to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard. Yes, even your own. Which means standing up for yourself and for your ideas. Even if you’re the kind of person who is happy to sit in the back and listen to other people talk, group projects are the one situation where it’s absolutely essential for you to have a voice. A group project needs to have input from everyone – so whether this means standing up to the alpha in the group or telling someone that no, Pluto is definitely not a planet anymore, make sure that you put your two cents in. Your GPA will thank you for it later.
Maybe there’s a nicer way of putting that snarky remark? Being diplomatic can be one of the most useful skills when working with other people. For most people, expressing themselves can be kinda nerve-wracking. Remember the first time you spoke up in a tutorial or actually asked a question in a lecture? Sharing your ideas in a group can be pretty similar, and maybe even worse. No one wants to start an argument or to have their idea rejected, so try to find a better way to say no to an idea that isn’t quite right. Try thinking of it as encouragement and guidance rather than a hard pass. Try phrases like, ‘I like that concept but maybe there’s a better way to express it’ or ‘That’s really interesting but it could be stronger if we combined it with another idea’. Don’t forget to be extra enthusiastic about ideas that are genuinely great so that these gentle no’s can be distinguished from the cream of the crop.