Sixteen credit hours. That is all that is between me and graduating. There are a lot of things I’m going to miss about school like late nights uptown, getting to sleep in everyday and all the group projects. Actually that last one is a flat out lie; I’m not going to miss group projects at all. All nighters cramming together to work on a project, controlling group leaders and slackers who conveniently don’t check their e-mail the last week before the due date are not things I’m going to miss.
I’m still not 100 percent sure why teachers love group projects so much. Perhaps it’s because they want to grade fewer assignments. For students, though, group projects can be terrible. I have had great group leaders and I have had the group leaders that make you want to drop the class. However, perhaps the most annoying kind of group leader is the super controlling one. They want every part of the project days before the deadline and they send you never-ending e-mails. They are always checking up with you “just to make sure you’re getting your part done.” What they really mean to say is, “you better be doing your part or I’m going to ruin your life when we do peer evaluations.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum there is the group slacker. The worst group slackers have a few things in common. They conveniently don’t get e-mails regarding their responsibilities, always have other “group meetings” at the exact same time as our group meeting and have a habit of turning in their work at the 11th hour. They always leave you wondering the night before the projects due if they are going to e-mail you their part. You keep getting more and more nervous as the deadline approaches and have you refreshing your e-mail every 10 minutes. Eventually, you have to start thinking of contingency plans like how you are just going to have to bite the bullet and do their part. Then finally at 12:05 in the morning you get their part with the heading, “Sorry this is late,” usually followed by a smiley.
Another great thing about group projects is when a group meeting is set up, you drive or walk all the way to the library and then the meeting only lasts five minutes. I have had plenty of group meetings where I have spent more time finding a parking spot then I spend in the meeting. For every productive group meeting there are five meetings that could have been done via e-mail or text message. It’s not a productive meeting when afterwards you say to yourself, “I wish I had the last 30 minutes of my life back.”
After the project is done its time for the final step of the project, peer evaluations. Peer evaluations can be nerve wrecking. You always feel like someone might give you a bad evaluation to make themselves look better. I’ve noticed when it is time to do the peer evaluations in class that there are a lot of wandering eyes. People are looking across the room at their teammates trying to make one good last impression. Sometimes it’s not good to make a good last impression though. One time, a slacker teammate stared me down when I was doing my evaluation as if he was trying to intimidate me. Has it really come to this? Do people have to intimidate others during these evaluations to get what they want? That’s even worse than the people who try and suck up to the group right before evaluations. Last semester, some teammate tried to make up for missing an important meeting by buying us all drinks. I guess desperate times call for desperate measures.
If you think peer evaluations are bad when you do your part, just imagine how bad they are when you don’t pull your weight. I have to admit that there were times when I was the slacker. Filling out them when you are the slacker is sort of like how a mob boss feels when he is afraid someone is going to rat him out, except without the whole getting whacked part.
Looking back on the last four years of group projects, I can say without certainty that I will not miss them. The thing is that in the “real world” there will be plenty more group projects. I’m just hoping that after I graduate and I’m doing company projects that they don’t involve missed e-mails, controlling group leaders and intimidation during co-worker evaluations.