University group assignments are the reason I have trust issues. Here’s how my learning curve went during my first year of university:
First group assignment: Shit yeah – there’s four of us and one assignment, I’m going to go watch a whole season of Suits while they do the work.
Second group assignment: “Let’s share the load.”
Third group assignment: “I’ll do the whole thing. Please, please don’t contribute.”
The interim between the first and second assignments is made up mostly of regret and bewilderment, as you wonder how people so inept were able to fill out a university application form let alone get accepted. After the second assignment, these feelings transform into a constant state of facepalm.
The people I find at uni seem to be specific to that environment. I don’t know where they disappear to once they leave campus, but I certainly never encounter anything like them in the real world. Put a group of them together to work on a project and you have created something truly dark. Unfortunately, there’s no ‘I’ in team, which is really fucking annoying, because flying solo would be a far easier task.
My stance on work ethic is this: produce maximum quality work with minimum effort. It’s a delicate balance that took most of my high school years to perfect. Uni teams are usually not amenable to this ethic, wanting instead to spend maximum time having group meetings that seem to produce minimal work of embarrassing quality.
I’ve compiled a list of the different types of group members and how to deal with them.
The OP 1
The OP 1 needs to be dealt with carefully. If used correctly, he or she can be a trump card for all other group member types. They are accustomed to applying maximum effort in every venture they attempt and don’t intend on changing anytime soon. Explaining that you don’t really need to try that hard at uni will fall on deaf ears. If dealt with incorrectly, the inclusion of an OP 1 in your group could result in hours of group meetings, a group Facebook page and starting the assignment more than a day before it’s due. If you’re lucky enough to get an OP 1 in your group, pretend you are also an OP 1. This will light their competitive streak up and they will fight you for all the work. Let them win. Get sevens.
The Sports Science Student
The sports science student is usually fun to have around. Nice, funny and often attractive, they lure you into a false sense of security. Then comes assignment time and boom, unintelligible gibberish on paper. Protein shakes obviously aren’t elixirs of intelligence. There’s not much you can do about these types. Smile, laugh and let them do the brunt of work while you admire their muscles. Don’t let them touch the assignment though.
The College Kid
The college kid will probably be drunk for the duration of your assignment period. They will not attend group meetings even though they live on campus. Leave them be and try not to stress, they will send you top quality work at the very last minute. This is guaranteed, as a good GPA is required to return to college, and they will almost definitely want to do this before they stop drinking and the cumulative hangover kills them.
The Day Kid
The day kid got B’s in school and likes meeting new people. They spend time catching up with friends on campus for coffee and shopping for new outfits to wear to lectures. They will try to organise group meetings to catch up, get to know each other and collaborate on mediocre ideas. Do not be friendly to the day kid. Be cold and remain staunch. Give them a section of the assignment to complete and cut all contact. They’re guaranteed to do the work (how do you make friends without being a good team member?), so just ignore them and ensure you tell them to email you their work before they try to add you on Facebook.
The Big Dog
This lad parties hard and gets laid on the daily. He’s got no time for uni and ‘doesn’t even give a fuck aye’. He’s a trolley boy at heart, but his private, all-boys-school upbringing and rich parents led him to uni attendance. His reasonable intelligence is exhibited solely through snide comments at the expenses of others. If you’re an attractive girl, flirt with him. If you’re a dude, give up, do the assignment yourself and don’t let your ego take any hits.
Recognisable by signature three quarter cargo pants and pumas, the fedora is booksmart, not street smart. If those terms sound like your grandmother warning you about dark alleyways, wait until you hear what he comes up with the first time an assignment involves anything remotely creative. Write him guidelines and insist he follows them. If he won’t agree to having his creative flow suppressed, tell him the new WoW extension is out. Do the assignment yourself.
I think the bottom line is that most group members will suck, and you will usually end up doing most of an assignment yourself if you want it go be any good. Or, if you’re lucky, you’ll cop a Golden Ticket.
Rare, precious and incredibly useful, The Golden Ticket is a normal person who can do well at uni without being an absolute fuckwit.
Written by Josie Harvey. Photo by T.B.