Group projects suffer without initiative

“If you want to get something done, ask someone who is busy.”

Many will read this as a contradicting phrase, but in reality, nothing could be truer.

Busy people are busy for a reason: They want to be productive. Likewise, a non-busy person is not busy for a reason: They simply do not want to be.

As college students, we are often forced to work in groups to complete a project or achieve an objective. Sometimes the professor allows the students to select their own groups, but other times the professor uses random selection. Just like a box of chocolates, you never know what (or who) you are going to get.

In my four years of college, I have worked in some of the best groups known to man. I would compare it to the 2016 San Antonio Spurs, who will dethrone the Golden State Warriors as the reigning NBA Champions this season. Mark my words.

I have had excellent groups, but I have also had some not so great ones.

“USA Today” writer Ashley Ritter penned “7 tips for surviving a group project” with the needs of college students in mind. The seven were choosing group members wisely, communicating, setting deadlines and check-ins, stepping up and leading when needed, having a time cushion, asking the professor for help and staying positive.

While not all of these always apply, if students can execute the aforementioned seven tips, they will more than likely be in good shape. But it is easier said than done.

When I think of the bad groups I have been in, groups worse than this year’s Philadelphia 76ers come to mind. Philly may not even win 10 games in an 82-game season, so having worse groups than that is mind-blowing.

The easiest way to differentiate a good and bad team member is by their communication. Yes, we have jobs. Yes, we have other classes. Yes, we have our extracurricular activities. It is not always convenient or possible to meet in person in correlation with everyone’s schedules.

But thankfully, we live in 2016. Have you heard of people like Shirley Ann Jackson, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Janus Friis, Niklas Zennström, Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht? Each invented forms of this thing called “technology” that make it possible for people to communicate, even when they are not in person.

With that excuse off the table, many group members claim to be “too busy” to do their own assignment, causing them to freeload for a grade. It is the most sickening aspect of group projects, and it puts a dent in the credibility of a college degree.

It also bothers me when I see someone I am relying on for a project out shopping, hanging out with friends or killing time in the game room, but claim to be “too busy.”

When you are working on a group project, think about the future. You might have to work with incompetent narcissists and slothful, sponging freeloaders in your career and will need to adapt to those situations. If you can survive a college project, mastering the bad group members will be almost unceremonious.

While in college, be a good group member by being a good communicator and leader, holding up your end of the deal and staying busy. Those are the students who get letters of recommendation from professors and will succeed in their field.