Everyone has group assignments in high school—whether you’ve been asked to give a group presentation, write a group paper, or some other such activity, you’ve certainly worked closely with others, and you might think that you’re pretty familiar with the whole thing by now. That’s probably not the case.
Group assignments in college are very different than group assignments in high school. While it might seem like working in groups just complicates any given assignment, you can use these situations to learn a lot about yourself and how you work with others.
In most colleges, group work is fairly common. You’ll have to conduct research, write papers, give presentations, form and defend arguments, and collaborate in other ways in groups. Because of this, it’s important to go into group assignments with an open mind. Yes, it may seem like it makes the process much more difficult. But it can also be much more rewarding.
When you use the creative capabilities of a number of people, you have many different perspectives, backgrounds, and ideas that can change the outcome of your group’s efforts. And even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you want, it’s likely that it will be well thought out and of high quality.
So listen to the suggestions of your group mates and be open to new ideas; you’ll be better off for it, and so will your group.
Gaining experience working with others will prove to be very useful in the future, as it’s rare in the professional world to work only by yourself. Once you’ve graduated and get a full-time job, you’ll be working with others constantly, so getting used to the dynamic of working in groups is very beneficial.
For example, you’ll whether you function best as a leader or as a follower. Both are needed in every group, and you’ll quickly learn when to take the reins and when to let someone else have control of the group. It’s equally important to learn to influence the group with subtlety when you’re not the leader, because, let’s face it, those who step into leadership roles are often not qualified.
There’s no way to truly understand the interplay between leaders and followers until you’ve experienced group assignments in college in both positions.
Ability to Compromise
Another useful skill that you’ll pick up during your groups assignments is the ability to compromise.
- When you’re working on an assignment by yourself, if you don’t like how it’s going, you can just change it.
- When you’re in a group, it’s a little different. You’ll have to diplomatically communicate to the group that you disagree with the current consensus and make a case for your recommendations. This seems like a simple proposition, but it’s something that takes a lot of practice. It’s really a trial-and-error process.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, never overlook group assignments as an opportunity to get to talk to a cute guy or girl in your class that you haven’t had the courage to approach. Group work is an invaluable tool in this respect!