What I wish My College Professors Would Have Taught Me: Group projects can be completed alone.

There are some things that can and will never be taught in the classroom. Maybe it’s because those topics are seen as too radical or have been flagged as a lawsuit risk, but truly these are the missing pieces of wisdom that leave many college grads as an incomplete puzzle with still much to figure out in the real world. In the spirit of Back-to-School, this will be a 5-part series exploring the top lessons I wish would have been included in my own college degree. It’s blunt and it’s honest, but it’s sure to be interesting.

Lesson One: Group projects can be completed alone.

Group Projects –We all remember them and probably share similar horror stories for a variety of reasons. My own experiences are quite negative as well. I always felt forced into a group project where, for better or for worse, I would take over and do it all myself. And to be perfectly honest, I’m not blaming my group members as much as my dominating personality. I would have much appreciated a professor to extend the option of working alone. It wouldn’t have given me any extra credit or held my project to a special grading scale, but it would have given me the opportunity to find my entrepreneurial roots sooner. I would have more readily realized that what any 5-person group was doing, I had the capability of not only doing alone—but also the ability to create a better, more cohesive project overall rather than the slapped together, mismatched work of a group project handed-in in such a rush that the still-wet printer ink smears in the professors hands. I digress…

By making groups an option rather than a mandate, teachers could have taught us to find our true potential, challenge our work ethic and learn what working style best fits our individual personalities. Yes a large project may be big and scary when looked at as a whole, but a project of that scale has the potential to teach students time management and what may seem overwhelming and impossible for one person to complete really isn’t all that bad when broken down.

Don’t get me wrong, real work situations will require you to work in groups of all numbers and learning team work skills is crucial. What I’m suggesting is rather than those classes that ONLY allowed students to work as teams or in groups is to at least present the option to mix it up and try new working combinations. This would allow us to better grasp the scope of our capabilities sooner–and maybe this is so important to me because I believe they far exceed what we ever imagine possible.

10 thoughts on “What I wish My College Professors Would Have Taught Me: Group projects can be completed alone.

  1. I am so glad that I am not the only student who knows I can do better work if I am by myself. Sometimes I feel like I am the only person who feels this way, and I agree, some of the teachers are out to get you just because you do need real life team working skills. But, no one ever stops to think, maybe some of the students would like to take on the whole enchilada! Haha.

  2. I agree completely! I recognize that a variety of personalities exist in all environments (work, social, school) and the noble attempt is to encourage adaptability, however I’m still chapped about that B I got in grad school becuase my group sucked! Our topic was completely off base, but I was out voted. Yeesh!


  3. I can TOTALLY relate to the disdain for working in groups, and I too would always prefer to do it faster and better on my own. But in my older years I’ve kinda realized the point of group work was to not only get a feel for how frustrating work in “the real world” was going to be, but it was also an opportunity to hone management skills. When I was put into a position of being a supervisor and manager, I really struggled, because my first instinct when a subordinate did a poor job or failed outright was to say “nevermind, I’ll do it!!” This just resulted in the dumb and lazy folks jetting at 5 while I nearly killed myself working ridiculous hours to make up for their incompetence. It would’ve been nice to have some more experience coaxing team members to pull their weight, because the reality of it is, I HAVE to make other people productive. In some situations, doing it all myself just isn’t feasible. So I guess my advice is . . . avoid having to manage anyone other than yourself, and you’ll be fine. 🙂

  4. It can be so frustrating to see ideas and skills wasted because a group doesn’t see it your way. However…

    The real world isn’t pretty, and work is a system of mishaps and blunders made to look reasonable for the boss or public. I hate it. I now work for myself, on my own. I have discovered it is not about not working in groups but getting yourself recognised for the skill you have, and getting them used to the best. I find if a take a bit, do it, and return. It gets better results and stops me abusing others who are, mostly, doing as good a job as me, just different.

    But always, keep smiling, :-)) It scares them.


  5. Gosh, I feel you there… When I started my English degree I was so happy there were no group projects anymore… It always frustrated me because I *knew* I could do it all better on my own.

    However, now I’m working with an awesome team and everything works so well… it really depends on the team and on the work. If the work matters then everyone will put in their best effort. If it’s a college project… not so much.

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