046: Group projects in school: are they worth it?

http://Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

The past month and more so the past two weeks have been some sort of a roller coaster. The pandemic that we are all facing puts us all in a precarious state which hopefully will come to an end soon. However, being a masters student during this period has been one of the most challenging things that I have had to go through. I must say that the month of March has thrown me into the sea with sharks waiting to devour me.

When the semester started, my friends and I would joke around saying that the month of March would be ‘living hell’. Of course we had no idea that covid-19 would strike in full force at the same time. We knew that the workload would peak during this month because it would mark the end of our classes, just before exams. If you’ve worked with teams in school then you definitely understand the struggles and trials of working in group projects. Now imagine having 9 group projects all being submitted in the same week during a pandemic! How am I still alive?

A week ago, I was working with one of my groups and then I got a headache that forced me to take a 2 day break. I was at the verge of a breaking point because I couldn’t think anymore. It doesn’t help when you work with people who give all manner of excuses about why they cannot contribute to a project. If there’s one excuse that I really hate is ‘I don’t know’. I mean it’s okay not to know but what are you doing about it? You just can’t sit down and expect ‘those who know’ to work on everything and deliver it to your doorstep. The sole reason of being in school is to gain knowledge so if you don’t know, why not find a way of ‘knowing’?

This month made me realize that group projects in school have become a big joke. I know the idea behind it has always been to teach students team work and leadership but I don’t think this works when some people don’t really care. The worst part is that these contribute to grades so if you have unsupportive group members or lazy ones that copy paste everything from Wikipedia, say bye bye to that grade you dream of.

I didn’t mind these group projects while studying for my undergraduate degree because everyone was trying to figure out what they wanted to do. However, for a masters degree, I would expect that everyone knew why they were in school. The degree itself is to enable students to ‘master’ their passion or area of expertise, so having people who behave like they were forced is really perturbing and annoying because they are in one way or another wasting other people’s time when they are not committed to projects.

Ultimately, maybe we need to go through these experiences in order to be prepared for the ‘world’. We shall always find ourselves working with lazy non-committed people. We might even find ourselves having such kind of bosses – well, lucky me I already experienced this huh! Bottom line is, people will always disappoint us but we need to find ways of dealing with these situations to prevent us from going mad. As someone once said, you can’t control how people behave but what you can control is your reaction!

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