Food:


Downgrade your meal plan - most people eat less than they expect. I purchased 96 meals first semester and had extras. Plus, they run specials at the end of the year to add more meals/dollars.


NO! The meals do get cheaper as you buy more, it's true, but it's about a 20 cent difference per meal when you double the number of meals. That's 2%. See "How many meals do I need?", above.


There are around 45 places to eat on campus. Make a list and start checking them out! You'll learn your way around, and you'll find a lot of gems.


Dining locations on north campus tend to be open later. You can view hours here.


Restaurants have varying menus which you can check out at dineoncampus.com.


USELESS! Don't use them ever. Meals average $11.50, and you're trading them for a meal that would normally cost ~$6 dollars, even including fries, drinks, etc. Not worth it! Use dining dollars anywhere that's not a dining hall (meal swipes are sometimes worth it there: see below).


There are three dining halls on campus: Sbisa (North), Commons (South), and Duncan (Corps). Even at the dining halls, using meals isn't always the best option. Ask the cashiers the dining dollar cost. Typically, it's cheaper to use dining dollars than meals swipes for breakfast, and sometimes lunch. (Dinner is usually worth the meal swipe.) This is a large reason behind why you probably need fewer meals than you think.


Duncan is the dining hall for the Corps of Cadets. Non-corps students can eat there as well (though not every day), and I personally think you should, at least once. It's not the same quality, but it's interesting to see, and it makes for a fun story!


The Grill at the Pavilion - breakfast taco combo with sausage. $5.50 for two fantastic tacos. Served until 10am.
Azimuth Cafe in Langford - Tuscan Chicken. Fantastic warm sandwich. (Pro tip: you can order any sandwich on the menu grilled!)
Rev's American Grill - the Good Bull. I won't spoil the surprise :) (They also have good bean burgers and salads.)



Parking:


Parking passes are expensive, but you can return your parking pass to Koldus (by Kyle Field and the MSC) at the end of the year for a ~$100 refund! (It's prorated, so the sooner you return it, the more you get back.) (The refund is less for lots than garages, just because you paid less to begin with.) (Your other parking options are covered below - and they're not so great, usually.)


Transportation services sends email for every football game. The short story is that South Side Garage doesn't have to move, and most southside lots are probably fine to stay. For other places, you should check the email.


College Station is home to a thriving community of towing services. If you park in the IHOP/Hurricane Harry's parking lot north of Campus, and you're not going to one of those places, you will get towed. It's a great experience... :( (Also, the golf parking lot is off limits.)



School Supplies:


TextbookSolutions.com is typically a lot cheaper than the bookstore. Not always, and they don't have everything, but it's right across from campus, so it's definitely worth checking.


In my experience, you don't need actually most of the textbooks listed in your syllabuses. A lot are available electronically (see below about Cengage Unlimited). It's perfectly fine to wait until the first class period to get your books.


You can, but you shouldn't. When you purchase textbooks from Barnes & Noble (the bookstore), they just pack your order from the shelves and make you come pick it up, but it takes several days. Just go downstairs MSC and pick them up the first week of class.


Scantrons are 42.8% cheaper at the bookstore than the Aggie Expresses. Buy 10, leave 1 in your bag.


Cengage Unlimited (2 Yr.) is almost certainly worth it for you. (Plus, it's $65 cheaper than in 2018!) (This applies to engineers, for sure. Others, do the math - you could save big.)


Predictably, TAMU will sell you any merch or school supplies you could possibly want. Also predictably, it's substantially more expensive than Amazon or Walmart. Don't get your calculators or notebooks from there.


Maybe. A lot of classes will list specific calculator restrictions for exams, but those are frequently just suggestions. Check with your TA/Professor - there's a good chance they'll say what you have is great.


Umbrella. Is that a school supply? Definitely. I'm not joking. You won't need it, and you'll think I'm crazy, right up until the day that it saves your life. Get one.



Academics:


I'm glad you asked! If you have more than two finals on one day, you can reschedule at least one of them. (This is Student Rule 8.4.) You can check the finals schedule on the Registrar's Website.


The people that have a fun first week have a fun first week. The people that do homework as soon as they get it, just for the first week, have a fun first semester. Up to you, but starting and staying ahead is a lot easier than getting ahead from behind. On the flip side, be sure to explore (get lost on) campus and make friends. They're everwhere!


Everywhere! You'll see people in the fields, on the stairs, in classrooms, in breakout rooms, in the library, in hammocks, in the dining halls, and in their dorms. It seriously pays to see what works for you. Try different things!


Apply the 80/20 rule. Identify the most high impact activities (whether studying or homework or whatever), and resolve to do one. Leave your dorm! Otherwise, you'll constantly fall off topic. Seriously, leave. (Also, leave everything you don't need - laptop/phone/tablet. You will survive. It's strangely freeing.). If you feel like you're struggling in general, A&M has a lot of resources to help - they want you to succeed. Talk to your RA or advisor. Most profs are quite helpful as well.


Take a screenshot of your schedule. Howdy can and will go down, and you'll be glad you did. A lot of people set their schedule as their phone background.


Professor's email addresses are always listed in their syllabus, in the directory, on Howdy, and on the department's website.


Class syllabi are typically posted under your course in eCampus (Blackboard), but that can take a while, and they're always in Howdy.



Life:


Get lost intentionally - that's how you avoid doing it accidentally in the future. Also, use aggiemap.tamu.edu for finding buildings and the very helpful aggiemaps.com to understand the bus system.


The Navigators are a great Bible study organization, and we'd love to get you involved. Check out AggieNavs.org! Also, Student Activities has a list of all on-campus organizations.


Waking up early is basically a super power, just saying. (Ask me about it!). A lot of people prefer morning classes because it gets them up and out. Others are fans of afternoon sections so they can stay out late. Again, I'd recommend experimenting, but I personally have found that evening classes can be pretty rough and make for a long day.


Make your bed every morning. You'd be surprised how much that helps you feel great about the day and be successful.
When you get home from somewhere, resist the urge to dump stuff on your bed. Take the minute to put everything where it goes, and you won't have big messes to clean up as much.


First of all, have fun! College life is a great time. However, one key to being able to hang with friends is also getting stuff done other times. Make sure you do one thing each day, even if it's just 30 minutes of math homework - commit to getting it done and do it. It's a lot better to do one thing well than to fail at the many things you need to get done. Plus, when you do go out, you'll be able to enjoy yourself and not be one of those people who complain about how much they have to do. Trust me, people will appreciate the lack of complaints. :)



Miscellaneous:


Helpdesk Central is a really cool building. (It's on the right as you leave Commons.) The people are super nice and fairly knowledgeable.


Go to the first meeting of every class really early. It stinks to be in a hurry and lost on the first day. If you're early, you get a good seat, you make a good impression, you can be intentional about choosing your groups, and it's a lot cooler in the mornings!


You definitely can, but be sure to stop at stop signs - students have been known to get tickets for running them.


Nope. Go to at least one football game over the next four years. You'll be glad you did, even if you're not a football person. It's a lot of fun, and it makes for a great story..


You mean my email addresses? You're a very observant who hovers over hyperlinks! Turns out, I am the proud owner of both maroon@tamu.edu and heyyouIbetyoudidn'tknowInowofficiallyhavethelongestemailyoucanget@tamu.edu. You can get your own on the TAMU Directory!


This website is actually a text file assembled into valid HTML by a Python parser written by a guy who doesn't know HTML (That's me!). I'm sure the code makes actual devs cry, but I think the site turned out alright :). I came up with the majority of the above content at TAMU Howdy Hack 2019. Check out the GitHub or contact me at send me an email for more details