Opinion: Are you ready for the group project apocalypse?

Imagine this scenario:

A thick purplish gray fog settles over the campus of UW Tacoma. The air be­comes so unforgivingly chilly that, as you scurry to your next class, you can’t help but feel something’s gone awry. You then step into your class and see it: individu­al desks rearranged into clusters of four. On the whiteboard at the front of the class, your professor has written in big bloody red letters: Group Project.

You take your place among a group of strangers who appear just as anxious as yourself. On each of your desks lies a project outline detailing certain tasks which must be completed in order for you and your group to pass. Your profes­sor has an unusual grin before announc­ing that your group project is worth 50 percent of your overall grade. At the an­nouncement, you hear a faint moan — and it’s not coming from you. Your group­mates look around bewildered — it isn’t from them either. You glance down at the project instructions and nearly jump out of your seat. A face appears from the paper, gasping for air. The whole class screams as a crinkly arm erupts from another outline paper and grabs a student by the arm. The project is alive!

Like a zombie apocalypse, for some students, the mere thought of a group project fills them with anxiety and dread. The amount of work needed to succeed both socially and academically can feel like an attack on your daily student life.

If you wish to avoid being devoured by your group project, here are a few quick tips:

REMEMBER: PERSONALITY COUNTS

This may sound odd in an article about catastrophe, but an understanding of personalities is crucial to success be­cause it helps settle conflicts that arise more efficiently. It also helps members divvy up the work in a project. For ex­ample, members who have a conscien­tious personality will be crucial in keep­ing the group on track and managing time, while members who are skilled in writing will be beneficial for editing group proposals or creating thought pro­voking slides on PowerPoints. In many post-apocalyptic books or TV series, the most effective teams have members with diverse sets of skills and personalities. A genius doctor or an expert hunter are just as important during a zombie apocalypse as an imaginative business major or ex­troverted communications major during a project.

BUILD TRUST AND COMMUNICATE

An expert hunter is a great asset dur­ing a zombie apocalypse, but not so great when they run off with the last of your medical supplies. Will you be able to count on your groupmates to do their duties? Can they count on you? If you want to survive, develop trust with your group through open and effective com­munication. This means listening to each other’s ideas, concerns and opinions. In zombie movies, group leaders may de­mand or yell at other members to get their point across. However, in real life, yelling or harshly criticizing other mem­bers will only create more stress and strain within the group. Even if one of your members appears to be slacking, always communicate respectfully. They might be slacking because they feel insecure or unsure of what they can do to help. In­stead, ask them about their strengths and offer suggestions on ways they can help. However, if the behavior continues, make sure to consult your professor so your grade won’t suffer the consequence.

HAVE A BACK UP PLAN

Sometimes technology fails, or a group member calls in sick. If this hap­pens, will your team be ready, or will you be devoured alive? It never hurts to be prepared. For group projects, make sure to have a copy of your presentation ac­cessible on multiple sources, and r discuss with your group who will improv an­other member’s part in case of an emer­gency. If you want to really prepare, you can always purchase zombie survival kits from sellers on Amazon.

PHOTO BY BRUNO MARQUEZ