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5 ways to deal with a bad project partner

We’ve all been there…

You’ve got a huge group project coming up and you’re psyched about working with your super-smart bestie…until your teacher decides to assign partners instead of letting you pick your own. And—just your luck—you’ve been paired up with the gal that does nothing.

So...what now?

Divide and conquer
The first time you and your partner meet, you need to divvy up the responsibilities. Write ‘em down and make a copy so that neither one of you has an excuse when it comes to knowing (or not knowing) what you’re responsible for. Stick to the list and make it clear that you two are equals…and you’ll be doing equal amounts of work.

Make your own deadlines
You’ve got three weeks before this thing is due. To ward off a last-second disaster, agree to set deadlines for each stage of your project. Think: a week for research, a week for creating your materials (handouts, PowerPoints, posters) and a week for practicing your presentation or pulling together a paper for your teacher. This will keep you both on track and prevent procrastination.

Keep tabs on progress
Don’t wait for deadlines to come and go to check in on how your partner is doing. And don’t accept vague responses—i.e. “It’s going OK”—when you can get a real answer. Ask direct questions, such as “Is the research on George Washington done yet?”

Meet up to work together
When you work together, side-by-side, in the same room, you’ll be able to see if your partner is actually doing the work or spending the time texting her BFFs. If she’s goofing off while you're slaving away, don’t be afraid to be the bad guy and speak up—this is about popularity, it’s about your grades.

Mega problem? Talk to your teacher
When in doubt, discreetly ask your teacher if you two can chat after class or during a free period. Don’t get whiney, but do tell her the facts: “I’m really worried about this project. My partner and I divided the work up equally when we started, but she hasn’t done anything yet.” Ask her for advice. Your teacher will not want to see you doing all the work while your partner gets a free pass to a good grade. Tip? This is best done before the project is actually due. If you’re concerned, don’t hesitate to mention your partner probs to your teacher.

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by Brittany Taylor | 3/19/2017
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