Planning Backwards College Life

Hello everyone:

I had some students ask me recently how to plan their group project. I would suggest that they begin at the end result and then plan backwards.

For example, let’s say you have a group project due in one month. Today is the 1st, in this example. When do you want to have the document finished? (I suggest at deadline of two or three days before it’s due, to give you time to let the dust settle). Now, instead of having a due date of the 30th, you have given yourselves a deadline of the 27th.

When do all of the team members need to have their part of the document ready for the person who is putting it together?  Let’s day that you want to give the compiler three days to do that, so now your due date for your own part of the final draft is the 23rd.

When do individuals need to have their research completed? So that you all have plenty of time to discuss what you have found (and because everyone is busy with work, family, and school projects), let’s say that you want a one week lead time for that. Your due date for that part of the project is now the 16th.

When should you begin to look for research? It may take you two weeks to look down rabbit trails and ask the professor for clarification, so now your personal due date is the 2nd. That is in two days, so you better get to work with your partners and figure out what it is you are going to talk about. You only have two days to decide, so start work on this today!

Would this system work for you? What suggestions could you add to it?


Dr. Sheri


Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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