New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Opinion: Group projects are more useful than you think

All of the painful group chats and Zoom calls will prove to have long-term benefits.
Natalia Kempthorne-Curiel
Group projects prepare you for the future and can be beneficial in the long term. (Natalia Kempthorn-Curiel for WSN)

There is perhaps no class assignment as dreaded as a group project. Most students consider it a waste of time, or at the very least an assignment that will be a struggle to complete as your fellow group members cite prior commitments to skip meetings — inevitably leaving you to do the brunt of the work yourself. And of course, everyone will receive the same grade. It’s understandable that after these experiences, students are less inclined to approach group projects with a positive attitude. However, despite their flaws, group projects have a few redeeming qualities that make them essential to your education.

Whatever field you find yourself in after college, whether that be screenwriting or software development, knowing how to work with other people is a necessity. A 2014 Stanford University study found that collaboratively-minded workers “persisted 64 percent longer” in difficult tasks, while still reporting less fatigue than their more solitary counterparts. It can easily be argued that, at their best, group projects have the same effect at the college level. 

If your partners are equally — or more — motivated and inclined to brainstorm ideas, you might end up with a better project than what you would have created on your own. Working creatively with others can help broaden your horizons, allowing you to see things from different perspectives and bounce ideas off of other people until you reach the best outcome.

Of course, having productive and inspiring partners isn’t always what happens. We’ve all had our share of bad experiences, but they can arguably make group projects even more important. Just like in college, plenty of our future co-workers, or even present co-workers for those of us in internships, might slack off or leave a greater workload for the rest of us

Preparing for those future scenarios now can teach us valuable lessons on what type of worker we want to be — group projects make us more empathetic. A group member keeps texting you at late hours? That might help you the next time you think about emailing a professor at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night. Another member keeps tweaking your part of the project? That’s a reminder to maybe ease up on your own suggestions, however valuable you might think they are. It’s amazing what we can learn from the people who we don’t want to be.

This isn’t to say that you will enjoy every group project you do, but working with others will always be a part of life. You’re better off dealing with it now, and might even be pleasantly surprised if you give your fellow group members a chance.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Ishir Talapatra at [email protected].

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