Your midterm is assigned and not only is it a group project, but you can’t even choose who you’ll work with. Your T.A. reads off your group of four then gives you the last half of the class to discuss your ideas. You pull your desks together in a mini circle and start the introductions.
It only takes you five minutes to realize that this group is not going to work. Between the kid who’s only showed up to class twice and the girl who speaks maybe three words of English, it’s going to be a disaster.
With only two weeks to complete both a four-page paper and a 5-minute presentation, you need to get to work quickly. The group spends ten minutes coming up with a topic and the next twenty trying to find a time to meet that works for all of you. Unsuccessfully. One kid holds an on-campus job at the library, one girl is heading out of town for the weekend and you all have 3 other midterms that you need to somehow complete.
The rest of the class starts packing up and – seeing a giant D in your near future – you decide to take charge.
“Ok, we’re going to break up the work. We’ll each take a portion of the paper and we’ll put it together at the end. Then we’ll use class time next week to write up our presentation. Good?”
The group agrees – most likely because they don’t want to spend another second in this classroom. You get everyone’s email address, divvy up the sections of the essay and go on your way.
You do your research and whip up your part of the essay the night before the next class. Only when you show up you learn you’re the only one with anything done. The boy doesn’t even bother to come, one girl was too busy to get her part done and the girl with the language barrier? You’re not even sure she understood the assignment.
You freak out. You only have a week left and half of today’s class to get the project done. While the T.A. drones on about that week’s reading assignment you zone out, thinking about your grade. “WTF? How is it fair that my grade depends on the other people in this group? I’m gonna have to do all the work myself. And then they’ll get my A? Ugh. But what else would I do? Let them ruin my GPA? I’m not gonna get a bad grade in a class this easy.”
Finally, she stops talking and you’re given the rest of the class to work with your group. Unable to count on anyone to get anything done out of class, you decide to use the time to write a script for the presentation. You’ll just do the paper on your own later. Do you want to? No. Do you have the time? Barely.
Do you trust these idiots to do anything worthy of your academic standards? Yeah right.
Thirty minutes is not nearly enough time to finish your presentation so you try once again to find a time to meet out of class. And, again, it’s a big fat fail. So, again, you offer to collect everything via email and send out a final document before the big presentation next week.
You spend your entire weekend writing the paper, sending passive-aggressive emails to the group to get their stuff to you, taking the crap they wrote and turning it into something worthy of a passing grade and complaining to your roommates. Then you put it all into a Power Point with some fun clip art (Clip Art makes everything look better) and beg everyone to meet you 10 minutes before class to go over the plan.
When everyone finally shows up – even MIA Boy – you explain everyone’s parts to them. You run through it once then, of course, get called on first to present. You turn in your paper to the T.A., take your place with your group and pray everyone in your group knows how to read aloud.
The presentation goes well (obviously – you did the entire thing) and a week later you learn your group has earned an A. All four of you.
Yeah, we’ve all been there.
Why anyone is still assigning group projects in college is beyond us too.