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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Group Projects: A Troubleshooting Guide

<r every student there comes an assignment which tests them as never before, an assignment which stretches their patience to as-yet-untested lengths, an assignment which arbitrarily yokes students together. Yes, that’s right: for every student there comes a group project. A variety of challenges await you. How then shall you proceed? Never fear! This one easy guide answers all your questions about how to handle the difficult situations you will undoubtedly face.

1) You can’t find a time to meet.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single project in possession of more than one member, must be in want of a time to meet. Unfortunately, possible meeting time availability for Carleton students can be modeled with the equation z=48-[d+a*(3b+4c)] where ‘a’ represents the number of members in the group, ‘b’ represents the average number of extracurricular activities among the group members, ‘c’ represents the average number of classes other than the one for which the project has been assigned among the group members and ‘d’ represents the average willingness to prioritize this project over other activities among the group members on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being “this project is my personal passion and I’m so excited to already be figuring out exactly how to divide and conquer it” and 5 being “literally I refuse to get up before 1 PM on my day with no classes in order to work on this.”
Finally, you all arrange to meet after 11 PM on a weeknight or on a fine Sunday afternoon when you could be outside enjoying the weather. Realize you haven’t chosen a meeting place and send yet another email awkwardly querying: “4th Libe?”

2) You have no idea what to do.
DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, admit your utter cluelessness about the vague guidelines and difficult subject matter that somehow should congeal into a group project. Everyone else knows exactly what to do, so you can show NO WEAKNESS. Take charge and begin ordering others around. Just assume that whatever you think sounds easiest is the correct thing to do. The important thing is to have confidence, show no fear and never back down from a challenge.

3) No one has any idea what to do.
When every person in the group follows the advice above for when they have no idea what to do, it can make for a particularly volatile and occasionally violent project situation. Likely, your project will end up being both a different medium and topic than your professor originally intended. This will be unfortunate for your GPA, but consider it a bonding experience. Just count yourself lucky no one was seriously injured.

4) A partner isn’t pulling their weight.
That one person isn’t contributing. They still haven’t managed to add any research or helped with the arrangement, much less actually typed a few words in your meticulously organized group Google Drive folder. It’s time to show this person who’s boss. Accomplish this by passive aggressively emailing them “No rush, but have you had a chance to look at your part of the project yet?” while nurturing a seething hatred deep in your heart. Alternatively, angrily do their part of the project as well as your own while plotting exactly what you’re going to write on the partner evaluation sheet.

5) You’re not pulling your weight.
You are the weakest link. Your fellow group members will ostracize you. All those paranoid thoughts about how they probably have secret meetings midnights at the Druid Circle just to talk about you behind your back? You’re probably right. That’s exactly what all the other students stuck working with you are doing. Is there anything you can do to change this? No. Your best available choice is to flee to Goodhue in the dead of night; they don’t have an extradition treaty with the US.

6) Your prof gives you an eval form for your partners.
This simple form cannot possibly begin to contain the myriad experiences on your group project journey that has bound you indelibly as lifelong friends (or enemies). Instead, express your appreciation for your partners by painting portraits of them. You can truly reveal your feelings about this life-changing experience you’ve shared through this medium, plus your prof gets some rad artwork for their office!

7) Your prof doesn’t give you an eval form for your partners.
Design your own form of evaluation for your partners! Your fellow group members will appreciate your dedication when you provide feedback through an interpretive dance routine and/or small gifts left in mailboxes. Bonus points if your gifts contain 100% recycled materials!

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