The Happy Guide To Stressing Less About Next Semester

If you are like me, you are a habitually stressed out. There is always something to be stressed about, and even if there weren't, you would find a way to be stressed about it. Alas, you are on vacation right now—winter break, girl! You have to stop stressing about something you can’t control. So, today on the blog I am going to give you my tips on how to stop stressing about next semester.

The Happy Guide To Stressing Less About Next Semester | It's so easy to stay stressed, even after the semester is over, but you shouldn't do that. Check out my guide to stressing less about next semester so you can enjoy winter break (or summer break, depending on when you see this.)

Make A List Of What Is Stressing You Out

I am all for creating a good list. This list is not the to-do kind, but a list of all the things that are stressing you out about next semester. Be honest and create a list of all the things. Writing this list will help you put your thoughts into the universe and rationally solve the problems you have.

Categorize your to-do list. What are you stressing about? Is it money? Is it passing your classes? Is it making friends/connections?

When you write down your stressors, you can attack them head-on. You can create an actual plan to attack those issues. Primarily, you can be rational about your stressors; you can take control over them (instead of letting them control you.)

Create a solution to each of the stressors that you have; then they should stress you out less.

Do not keep all your stressors in your head!

Think About How Far You Have Come

One thing that usually stressed me out the most in college was how tough each semester seemed to get over the next one. Obviously, the longer you are in college, the harder college gets—but it hasn’t stopped you yet.

Even if you are a freshman in college, think back to when you were a baby or a freshman in high school, how much have you accomplished since then?

School will get tougher, and you will get better at dealing with its toughness.

There is a popular saying, “Things don’t get better—we do.”

We get better and savvier at dealing with the things that life throws our way. We have never ceased to get better at dealing with life’s curveballs. The new semester will not stop us from getting better at dealing with life’s curveballs.

This new semester is not special. We will take the new semester in stride, we will take our time, and we will make this next semester our bitch (just like we always do.)

Talk To Upperclassmen About The Courses You Are Taking

I understand that we still worry even if we know how far we have come. It’s time to bring out the talking session. Ask upperclassman for advice and information on the courses you will be taking next semester.

If you know of any people who have taken your professor before, definitely talk with them.

A lot of people may tell you to go to RateMyProfessors, and while I love that site, I have mixed feelings about it. Most people only post a RateMyProfessors rating if they have a really great or really poor view of the professor. You may not get the most average view of a professor there, not to mention the fact that the ratings are anonymous.

I always say that you never know how someone behaved in a class to get the score that they did (good or bad.) If you don’t know their study habits, what kind of learner they are, etc. it’s hard to judge the validity of an anonymous RateMyProfessors rating to how you will feel.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you will automatically be able to get a good feeling based on an upperclassman’s thoughts. Obviously, you may have different viewpoints on what makes a great professor—but with talking directly to the upperclassman, you can get a better view of what the professor is like (and of course, ask questions to get more detail.)

Take A School Email Break For The Year

School email is very stressful. It never seems to end, and there is always someone sending something, even after the semester is over. Unless you have to keep checking it due to a previous commitment, I would suggest that you take a break from your school email after the semester is done.

Delete or hide the email from your school account until January 2nd. Give yourself some time to breathe and get away from it all. Then once the New Year has come and past, you can get back on to keep updated before the start of the year.

Obviously, if you feel like you need to stay updated because of something important like a job or a class, you can permit yourself to check it once per day, or once every couple of days—I wouldn’t want you to miss an important update. Other than that, though, don’t get stuck constantly refreshing your college email to see if there are any new updates. New updates can wait.

Do Something Else With Your Time

Last, but certainly not least, do something else with your time. You can’t worry about college if you're too busy doing other things. So, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Get a part-time job: Many people go back to their old jobs that they had before college for a few weeks. See if your old part-time job has an opening.
  • Create a blog: I am all about blogging (obviously), and your winter break is the best time to start one. I have an entire blog dedicated to advice about starting and sustaining a blog (click here to check out Amanda Cross Blog.)
  • Spend time with friends/family: Your friends and family back home probably miss you a whole lot. Make some time to see them this winter break and get your mind off the stress of school.
  • See a movie: There are tons of movies coming out this winter. See a few (or all of them, I won’t judge.)
  • Read for pleasure: It’s so hard to just read throughout the year. Read a few of the books that have been piling up on your to-read list. A few weeks ago, I shared some of the books I have purchased lately on a post about things I have been loving (check out that post here.)

There are hundreds of things you can do instead of worrying and stressing about next semester, so don’t hesitate to get out there and do those things!


Simply put, you gain nothing from worrying about next semester. Next semester is weeks away; you should try to be as in the moment as you can be. Instead of worrying about something that is far away, get in the moment and appreciate the things that you can do right now.

I hope that this article has helped ease some tensions and snapped you back into reality. The time that you should always be focusing on is now.


Amanda Cross

My name is Amanda Cross and I am the blogger behind The Happy Arkansan. I am a 20 something college graduate, graduate student, and all around awesome person.

12 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went To College


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7 Tips To Help You Be On Time For Once

I am one of those people who must be on time. If you tell me to be somewhere at 9:00 AM, I am probably going to try my hardest to be there at 8:30 AM. (And I will probably get mad at you because what kind of person schedules something that early unless it’s work?) I love it when other people value punctuality too. If I have to wait for a person longer than a few minutes after a set time, I get anxious and a little bit angry. If I value your time, you should value mine. Today on the blog I want to share a few tips and tricks with you for being on time so you can start being that person who is early instead of late.

7 Tips To Help You Be On Time For Once | Do you struggle with being on time to all of your commitments? Check out my article for 7 tips on how to be on time for once so you can impress all your friends with your newfound punctuality. #timemanagement #punctuality

1. Only Schedule Commitments You Know You Can Keep

If you can’t keep a commitment, don’t say yes to it. Especially when you are talking about career and education related commitments, you need to be punctual. One thing that was taught in my sorority often was DWYSYWD or “Do what you say you will do.” It’s a simple concept that few people value in today’s day and age. You can say no if you don’t want to do something, but once you commit to a task, make sure that it gets done.

2. Make Sure Your Schedule Is Detailed

When you schedule anything for yourself, you want to make sure that you are as detailed as possible. Don’t just put “Meeting with Amanda” instead, get more in-depth.

  • Which Amanda? (There’s a lot of us, you know!)
  • Where will you meet Amanda? (Address or building and room number.)
  • What time will you meet Amanda? (Very important information for being on time.)
  • What is this meeting with Amanda about? (You don’t want to be blindsided with this meeting. You want to know what you will be talking about and what materials you may need to bring to it.)

When you are detailed about your meeting plans in your planner you take out the element of surprise. You know exactly what is going on every single day.

You know who you are meeting, when you are meeting them, why you are meeting them, and where you are meeting them. Sure this information is probably in your email or a text message, but sometimes it’s not.

Sometimes you create a verbal agreement with Amanda and where do you turn then? Plus no one wants to open the various places we make plans like texts and emails every time we have a scheduled meeting. Instead, do the smart thing and put it all in your planner.

3. Check Your Schedule Every Night

Each night before you go to bed (or every morning when you wake up) you should make it your mission to review your upcoming schedule. Where do you need to be and when do you need to be there? Your goal should be to take a few minutes to solidify your schedule in your mind. No one works well when they are flying by the seat of their pants going to meeting to meeting with no thought as to why.

Instead, physically go through your schedule that day:

  • When are your classes?
  • When are your meetings?
  • When do you need to go to work?
  • When do you need to work on homework?

Whatever your day looks like, walk through that day from start to finish. This walkthrough will help you plan your day as much as you can without physically going through your day. This will be a great first step to completing your day punctually.

4. Create Alarms For Your Commitments

If you have a major commitment, make an alarm for it. Don’t just make the alarm for 5 minutes before the event, especially if you know you will be at home in bed or at another location across town from that commitment. Instead, create an alarm that’s an hour or even more (if necessary) before the event. This is your get your stuff together and go alarm!

Your alarm should make sense for the commitment. If your event is 20 miles away from your home, you shouldn’t make an alarm five minutes before the event—that would make no sense at all! You want to make sure that your alarm is long before the event start time to give yourself time to get ready and travel to the event.

5. Leave Early For Your Commitments

I am a big believer in being not just on-time for commitments, but being early. When your goal is to be just on time for events, that can easily translate to being late if just one part of your plan goes awry. For example, if you leave with just enough time to get to a place on a light traffic day, but traffic happens to be heavy today, what will you do then? Chances are you will probably be late to your commitment because you didn’t plan for a heavy traffic day.

Leaving early will not always ensure that you get to your events on time, freak accidents happen, but you should always try to leave as early as you can so that you have a lesser chance of being late to events and commitments.

6. Space Out Your Big Commitments

If you have two big commitments, especially if they are in different parts of town, you shouldn’t put them back to back. Instead, you are better off putting a few hours between those events to make sure that you have time to get from one event to the next event.

Be Conscious Of Commitment Locations

On the other hand, if all your commitments are happening on the same campus or in the same building, you probably don’t need to be as conscious about spacing out big commitments. This does depend on the size of your campus or building, though. If you go to school on a small campus, you can probably put big commitments back to back. If you go to school on a huge campus where there is a lot of traffic, though, you may still want to space out your commitments if they are in various buildings across campus.

Give Your Commitments Adequate Time To Breathe

You also want to make sure that you are conscious of how long it takes events to happen. For example, if your professor never lets class out early, why would you agree to be somewhere 10 minutes after class is done? You want to make sure that you fully realize how long certain events will take.

If you have a meeting with your campus organization and then a meeting with your group for a class project, don’t schedule your second meeting 30 minutes after the first one begins. That wouldn’t be smart, and it would just make you unnecessarily late. Schedule your commitments better, and you will see that you are on time for more events.

7. Bring Along Small, Portable Activities For The Downtime

Finally, if you do all of this, you will probably have a lot of downtime between events because you are focusing on being on time, especially at first. I encourage you to bring along some small activities that you can do during this downtime. Here are a few example activities:

  • Plan in your planner
  • Study your flashcards
  • Listen to an audiobook or recorded lectures
  • Read a book for pleasure or a class
  • Work on homework that you have to do

Whatever activity you decide to do during this downtime while waiting for events, make sure it counts for something. Being on time for events doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice all that time between events. Once you are safely to the commitment location or while commuting (if you have audiobooks or recorded lectures), you can make use of that extra time instead of giving it up for the sake of punctuality.


Punctuality is a skill that not many people practice in today’s day. I hope that today’s tips have given you something to think about when it comes to being on time and how you can make punctuality a more important part of your life.

Which of these tips will you implement to start being on time more?


Amanda Cross

My name is Amanda Cross and I am the blogger behind The Happy Arkansan. I am a 20 something college graduate, graduate student, and all around awesome person.

12 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went To College


Subscribe to get instant access to my masterclass 12 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went To College so that you can create the best college life by learning from all the mistakes I made as a college student.

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How To Take Beautiful Photos Of Your Campus Groups

I think that we have all had that group photo session. You know, the one where NO one is prepared to take the photo, no one knows how/where to line up, and there are a million things wrong with the layout of the photo. You know, the one where someone who is tall doesn’t want to get in the back of the photo, even though that’s the only logical place. Or, better yet, someone who is short doesn’t want to be in the front. Like, what are you five foot tall? Get in the freaking front.

Yeah, those photos usually end up disastrously. Today I am going to give you some great tips on creating a group shot that looks somewhat decent. This is perfect for you whether you are getting ready for a group shot of your sorority or just a regular campus organization.

How To Take Beautiful Photos Of Your Campus Groups | Taking a good group photo can be a huge undertaking. Check out today's blog post that will help you take better group photos of your #sorority or campus group/organization.

Give People Almost Too Much Warning

People are notorious for forgetting everything that you tell them, especially when you are dealing with students. Likely, the student has a million things on their plate, and they forget that they have an upcoming group photo shoot.

To combat this, tell your group members about the photo shoot multiple times. I would encourage that at least one of these warnings be in a physical meeting. The other ones should come in the form of an email (or if you can, a text message.)

Make sure that with each warning, you give the same information. You don’t want any of your warnings to be something vague like “don’t forget about the group photo shoot!” That message is too vague, and if for some reason that was the only message they got from you, they would be confused AF.

So, with each warning share all the most pertinent details: the date, the time, the location, and the dress code if you have one.

Don’t Be Afraid To Give A Dress Code/Guide

Dress codes can be beneficial for your photo shoots. By setting a dress code, your photos will look a million times more cohesive. If you are doing a sorority or fraternity group photo, a dress code won’t be as weird, but you can still set a dress code for any group photo shoot as long as you give people plenty of time to get together the necessary material.

Your dress code can be as simple as wearing the group’s shirt or much more complex. How close your members feel to the organization will determine how complex or elaborate your dress code can be.

Make A Relaxed Dress Code

Often when people hear the word dress code, it stiffens them up because what if they don’t have what the dress code entails. Usually, for people in Greek life, it is to be expected that you will have to purchase something for a photo shoot, but it’s completely different for most other organizations.

If your photo shoot dress code isn’t as simple as wear the official shirt of the campus group and blue jeans—you may want to create a more relaxed dress code.

For example, if the color blue is prominent in your organization’s colors, you may request that everyone wear a blue shirt and a pair of blue jeans. Your photo will still look put together, and your members will most likely not have to buy anything new for the photo shoot.

Have Extras Of Dress Code Attire If Possible

There is always that one person who forgets or couldn’t find the required clothing. If you have some extra things that fit the dress code requirement, bring them with you and encourage others to do the same just in case. You wouldn’t want to put anyone out of the shot just because they couldn’t find what they needed.

Alternatively, you may want to require that people let you know by a certain date if they can’t find the required items. That way you aren’t just toting around a bunch of things, and instead, you can bring only the essentials or find someone who can help that person out. You may want to set the deadline a few days before the photo shoot, so you aren’t completely scrambling to find the right material.

Scope Out The Site (And Be Prepared With Props)

You should scope out the site that you booked for your group photo shoot before the day of your shoot—especially if you are filming your photo shoot in a different location than where you normally meet.

See what is in the building or open area where you plan to take your photo. An open set of stairs with nearby windows are your best friend when it comes to group shots because you can easily pose a huge group on a set of stairs with no problems.

If you see no proper ways to get a good group shot with the props on site, you may have to bring some extra things to make it happen like a bench or some chairs. The location that you are filming at may be able to provide extra chairs or benches so I would contact them ahead of time to see if they can help you set up your photo shoot.

Let Your Group Know Exactly What’s Going On Throughout The Shoot

Have you ever been in a group photo smiling ear-to-ear only to realize the photographer is nowhere near ready to press the freaking shoot button? I hate when that happens, and it makes the entire shooting process take five-ever.

So, if you are the photographer or you know the photographer, ask them to keep the group up to date with what they are doing. Let your group know step by step so that they aren’t needlessly smiling or posing while you are still setting up the shot. Your group members will thank you for that!

Use A Nice Camera If You Have One

iPhones and Androids have come along way, but if you are serious about a group shot, I encourage you to use a nice DSLR if you have access to one.

I use the Canon Rebel T5 or the Canon Rebel T5i for all my photo shoots on the blog, and I LOVE it. Since there is a Canon Rebel T6 series, the T5 is usually reasonably priced. You can also get a DSLR certified refurbished from Amazon or the retailer. I got my T5i certified refurbished, and it looks and performs like new (but it was cheaper than the T5i list price.)

Having a nice camera for your group photo shoot will allow you to get amazing shots over a phone’s camera.

Take Multiple Shots

Most cameras have a continuous shutter feature. USE IT. You also want to get a few different poses as well. The more shots you have, the more you have to choose from when you edit the photos later. There is a chance that you will have more than enough shots after doing this, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. I would rather have more shots than what I needed over having not enough shots.

Don’t Have Too Many Cooks (Photographers) In The Kitchen

You want to get shots for you, your social media chair, and the president of the organization that is just so proud of the work that they have put in and they want a picture of all their members for memories. With so many people to take pictures for you may feel that the best thing to do would be to take pictures all at once, DO NOT DO THIS.

When you have too many photographers in the kitchen, your group members are confused. They don’t know who to look at or who is about to take a picture. All the pictures turn out bad because you stretched your members too thin.

Get your main photos first. Then get a few photos for the people who want extra shots like the social media chair and the president. Someone’s random iPhone photos should never come before the main, fancy, photos.

Create Smaller Groups During Your Session

It's REALLY hard to get great huge group shots. I would encourage you to take some shots that are still "group" shots without the huge group. For example, take pictures of your officer team, all your chairs, the various new member classes you have (if you are in Greek life), etc. Find several ways to segment your group. This will help you get the most out of the group shots that you are taking. These smaller group portraits will help you with all things recruitment.

Throw In Some Candid Shots

Stiff, group shots are great, but they don't really showcase your group at it's best. Throw on some music, get your group talking, and capture photos of them in the moment. Maybe snap a few shots during a group meeting or when y'all are having a game night. Whenever you have an activity with your group, you should be taking pictures of it.

Hire Out If Necessary

Composing your own photos can be hella stressful. Sometimes the best thing that you can do for your group is to hire someone to take the photos for you. Don’t be afraid to hire a local photographer or a student who is majoring in photography. You can find a great photographer without breaking your budget, and you may even have a great photographer in your group. Ask around!


With these tips, I am hopeful that you can cut down on awful group photo sessions. Group sessions can be fun and truly highlight your sisterhood/brotherhood or campus organization. Be prepared, be smart, and work hard to make sure that everyone has a good time taking photos at your session.

Do you have any group photo session horror stories? What made your favorite group photo session so fun?


Amanda Cross

My name is Amanda Cross and I am the blogger behind The Happy Arkansan. I am a 20 something college graduate, graduate student, and all around awesome person.

12 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went To College


Subscribe to get instant access to my masterclass 12 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went To College so that you can create the best college life by learning from all the mistakes I made as a college student.

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