“And now everyone break up into groups of four or five, these will be your teams for the big project this semester.”

These words are inevitably muttered in every class, and what follows ends up being an excruciatingly awkward 10 minutes spent making small talk with perfect strangers.

No matter how hard you try to form the “perfect” group, there will always be that one person who holds you back and makes you swear to yourself that you will never trust another living soul with your grade ever again.

How the hell are you supposed to decide whom you want to be waiting on to finish their section the day before the project is due? There is no clear-cut answer, but it typically involves praying that you know at least one other person in the class and then pure luck.

Side note: Discussing your schedule with your group might be even more awkward than forming the group. No, I have essentially zero free time from now until the end of time unless you want to hang out with me at 11 o’clock tonight.

The best you can do is grit your teeth and deal with it. Become numb to the nonchalance with which these strangers will throw around your GPA. Learn how to take the load of five people on your back (a skill I developed playing with my less-than-talented basketball team) and type yourself through the night.

Just keep telling yourself that all you have to do is get through college and you’ll be fine, no more group work for the rest of your life. No more relying on others to get you an A. No more hours spent staring at a blank email inbox on deadline day, praying that what arrives isn’t complete garbage.

You’re going to be wrong though.

Well, at least most of you are. It’s pretty safe to assume that some of you will get to be unemployed and live in your parents’ basement. You might not realize it, but you are the lucky ones.

The rest of us will be going into the workforce, and once there we will be going through the same old hell.

“But Stephen, the company I work for is only going to hire the best! All of my fellow employees will be 100 percent- committed 100 percent of the time!”

This may very well be true, but I’d be willing to bet that you’ll have to deal with clients. You’ll have to deal with suppliers. You’ll have to deal with some kind of third party, and there is no doubt that this person will end up screwing you over.

This is what professors know, and what they are preparing us for. This is why they throw us into the pit of group work and expect us to learn how to crawl ourselves out. Take advantage of it and learn to be proactive with your group, learn how to appreciate the people who actually do their work and learn how to email-blast those who don’t. It’s a skill you’ll be utilizing for the rest of your life.

(To those I am currently in a group with: You’re awesome. You’re going to be the best group I’ve ever worked with. Keep up the good work.)