If you say the two words ‘group work’ to any student you’ll likely be met with a five or ten minute rant about how much they hate it. How they shouldn’t have their grades affected by other people at this level of education and also how they and they alone, have managed to find the worst group mates of all time. All of these may be perfectly valid points, but contrary to popular opinion, I believe group work can be some of the most formative work in university. Group work is often a reality check It’s no secret that there’s people out there with different work ethics and different values to you when it comes to knuckling down on a project. Group work can often bring this knowledge into reality and make it tangible. Whether you’re more relaxed in your attitude towards deadlines or the type of person who schedules their entire days, weeks before the assignment is even due. The chances are, you’re going to be exposed to the other type of person and that’s going to cause a clash. If you’re lucky enough that this has never happened during university, first of all I’m jealous, but second of all, you will likely have to face it when you hit the working world. So really, it’s best to get familiar with it now. Why is it best to get familiar? Surely a life in which we all get along and work to our best ability, with no arguments about the way in which each individual goes about it is what we should want and strive for, yes? Well yes, technically, but the world is sadly not that simple most of the time. And learning to become adaptable to working with people who work differently to us is a very valuable skill. It’s this clash of opinions and attitudes that helps build us into better, more well-rounded workers, who can fit into a range of environments and apply ourselves no matter how difficult our co-workers may be. Patience is a virtue As my grandma always says, patience is a virtue. You’re going to need to learn to build a lot of it, so best to do it now while there’s no money involved or even jobs on the line. There are of course times where group work provides situations that are unsolvable with just a positive mental attitude though. And in those cases I’ve always found that focusing on the work that needs to be done and ignoring who’s job it was to do that bit is the best way to get the project finished. It’s not fair and it’s not fun But sometimes taking on the extra work for the sake of your own grade is worth it and can be rewarding in its own way. Don’t forget you can always make a point of mentioning to your tutor about those who didn’t put the effort in. Tutors tend to be understanding about these things and often appreciate it more if you talk to them and are forthcoming about group problems. It may mean you have to muddle through to get it finished but at least there will be context for why its not as strong of a project as it could have been. All in all, group work can be challenging, frustrating and stressful. However, you can be sure you’re going to learn from it and will be better off in the long run.