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The Ultimate Student Reference Guide: College Station, TX



Although I no longer live in College Station, I spent 4 years there as a student at Texas A&M University. I really enjoyed being in College Station, and still miss many parts of it today.

A lot of good memories, a lot of good friends, and a lot of fun times.

Whether you're new to town as an incoming freshman, an incoming graduate student, or just moving there for a job opportunity, I hope you will experience C-Stat to the "max" and enjoy it as much as I did during college.

Although everyone experiences this college town in a different way (and I encourage you to go out and learn about the "in's and out's" on your own), this guide will help you get started by listing some of the best places to go, places to eat, things to do, and things to know in the vastly growing town of College Station.

So, here we go.

Disclaimer: Last time I visited College Station was in October 2015, so I will try to update this as much as possible as I visit each time.


Best Places To Eat:

Best Happy Hours:

Best Nightlife / Bars:
Go to DrinkOwl for specific happy hour specials in B/CS.


Best Places to Hang Out/Chill:

Best Things To Do:
  • Santa's Wonderland (near Christmas time)
  • Cinemark Movie Theatre = $4 with Student ID, every night.
  • Messina Hof (winery in Bryan)
  • Central Park (christmas light show)
  • Play disc golf at Discovery Park or Wolf Pen Creek Park
  • Chilifest (Get on a team! It's not about the chili...)
  • Texas Renaissance Festival (in the fall)
  • Brazos Bingo
  • George Bush Library & Museum
  • Aggie sporting events (of course)
  • Tailgate before an Aggie football game near Reed Arena
  • Go to one of the many concerts held at Hurricane Harry's or Daisy Dukes
  • Go camping or fishing at Lake Bryan
  • Check out the newly renovated MSC
  • Stock up on cheap Aggie wear at tent sales or C.C. Creations warehouse
  • Big Event (huge volunteer opportunity event)
  • Blue Bell Factory Tour (in Brenham, currently closed!)
Go to VisitAggieland.com for many more things to do in B/CS. 


Best Places To Study:

Best Places To Workout / Run:


Best Tips & Advice:
  • General
    • It will be crowded... everywhere. Obviously you have to expect this going into College Station, considering there is over 40,000 undergrads in a semi-small city...not including all the families that live there (College Station school district is 5A), the graduate students, and all the Bryan locals / Blinn students who want to hang out in College Station, too. Yes, we all get annoyed at times with the traffic (especially during football games) and with the over-population everywhere you go. But don't let it affect you negatively. Instead, let it be a preparation for the future when you may have to commute daily in heavy traffic to your future job (unless you plan on working on the family farm). Let's face it; the town of College Station wasn't prepared for such an incredible population growth within the university, and it was not built to serve a large population well --which is why there is ALWAYS construction going on throughout the city and campus. 
  • Food & Drink
    • Shop for your groceries at HEB (cheap and awesome). If you live near the HEB on William D. Fitch Parkway, it will be less crowded or chaotic than the one on Texas Avenue.
    • Find out all the happy hour specials for food and drinks in B/CS -- take advantage of them.
    • Take advantage of Tuesdays (and sometimes Thursdays) -- that's when all of the cheap food deals happen.
  • Nightlife
    • The worst advice that you may hear from other students is to say "I don't have my I.D," if you are drinking as a minor and confronted by a cop. I have seen this happen --- if you say you "don't have your ID," you will not get off-the-hook. You will become arrested and thrown in the slammer. It's better to get an MIP and possibly get it off your record, than to have to be bailed out of jail for "failure to show identification," plus an MIP, PLUS trying to get both offenses off of your record. If you are a minor, do not drink on Northgate. 
    • Take advantage of Carpool (student organization), especially at Northgate. The later you wait to get on the Carpool list to get a free ride home, the longer you will have to wait. Taxi's are pretty expensive --at least $10-15, even if you only go a couple miles. But there will be those nights you just want to get home and don't care how much it cost -- so then a Taxi might be the solution.
    • Do not park at any church parking lot when you are trying to go to Northgate. Your car will get towed. For parking, use your/any campus parking pass and go to North Campus Garage or find a place to park along a no-tow-zone area (try along the residential streets off north gate). Or try to find a close parking lot on campus that you can park with your campus pass. 
  • Parking / Transportation
    • Do not park in any campus parking lot without the correct pass, even if you're just going to be there "for a minute." --You will have a ticket on your car when you come back.  College Station is known for horrible parking and getting issued a lot of parking tickets. But you'll probably do it anyway and just have to learn the hard way. :) Almost every student has had at least one...some have had dozens.
    • Night Parking: Your campus parking pass is good to park [*almost] anywhere on campus without penalty after 5PM. Before 5PM, you must park in your designated lot. *Here's the map for lots you can park in after 5PM: http://bit.ly/1dr3rZV
      • If you do want to park on campus after 5PM, get there ASAP to get a spot. Spots fill up quick. After 6PM, it's really difficult to find a spot. 
      • At West Campus, don't park in the main parking lot by West Campus Library. It's very difficult to find a parking spot there after 5PM (for all those who want to study at WCL). Instead, park in Lot 74 -- there will be tons of parking there.
      • The only garage you can park in after 5PM with any parking pass is West Campus Garage by The Rec Center.
      • If you are planning on studying on campus past 8PM, you might want to take your own car and park on campus. Buses do run at night, but you will probably have to wait at least 30 minutes to an hour before the next bus comes. Only one bus per route runs at night, so the waiting period will be pretty dreadful.
  • Bicycles
    • If you ride your bike to class, you can still get violation tickets. You can get tickets for speeding, not stopping at a stop sign, not having proper lighting on your bike for night riding, and more. 
    • Riding a bike to class on the main campus is pretty useless, unless you take a completely non-traditional route (I don't know of any non-crowded routes, though). You will have to get off your bike and walk it due to the slow crowd of people walking, so the best thing to do is ride it to campus, then park it somewhere and walk to class. Make sure to bring a bike lock!
  • The Rec Center
    • The parking lot for The Rec (gym/recreational center) is NOT free, and not available to use at anytime during the day. Only with your parking pass after 5PM. Before then, you will have to pay for your lot space at the kiosk with a credit card. 
    • Good luck trying to find a basketball court to play on at The Rec, especially if it's a group of you wanting to play. You will quickly learn the days and hours that playing sports at The Rec will be most busy and almost impossible to get playing time in. There are multiple outdoor locations throughout College Station that you can play at, instead. 
  • Organizations/Involvement
    • If you are looking for a good Christian church to attend, Central Baptist Church and Grace Baptist Church are great to get involved with. From my own experience (and from MANY others) I would not go to Living Hope Baptist Church. They do not always teach biblically and take things way too far -- very judgmental church and not loving. You are not even allowed to wear a sleeveless blouse to church or you will get bashed for it.
    • Being involved is super important as a student at Texas A&M, but choose wisely. Make sure your involvement with an organization will help you in the future (preferably job related), and not just for the social aspect. If you just want to join social organizations, then at least get an internship during the semester or summer. It will probably be unpaid, but from my experience and what I've seen in many other people, internships have really helped get students jobs after they graduated. Only a few people I know were actually involved in a great organization that helped prepare them for their future job (by also taking on leadership opportunities, instead of just being a member). 
    • Greek life is NOT a big deal at Texas A&M. We are probably one of the only universities that do not care about sororities and fraternities. Nobody cares who you pledged with. In fact, there's a lot of people who make fun of greek life students. Don't get me wrong -- I have a ton of friends who were in the greek life at TAMU, and they enjoyed it a lot. But as an onlooker, it's definitely a stereotype that is not attractive (unless you date within greek life). I hear it's still a lot of fun, but there's already so much to do and be involved with at TAMU that greek life is definitely not on the pedestal that other schools view it as. 
  • Misc. 
    • Some residential pools will not allow you to lay out / swim there unless you live there, or if you are with someone who lives there. Check on the rules. You can get ticketed there, too.
    • Take advantage of JOB FAIRS! I didn't, and truly wish I did. A ton of people got jobs through these. I would start going as a Junior. Have resumes printed out with your contact information on it. I also know people that were hired as Juniors and would start the job when they graduated college. How awesome is that?
      • Having that said, DO INTERNSHIPS! Being involved is great, but if you're only involved in social organizations (instead of job specific / career goal organizations), then it won't help boost your resume for a future job opportunity. Internships in the B/CS area will most likely be un-paid. But take advantage of them, because it will pay off in the long run when you get a job because of that free internship you had in college. 
  • Things I Learned The Hard Way:
    • Textbooks:
      • If possible, buy or rent your textbooks online. This goes for most college campuses, but if you buy a new textbook at the campus bookstore, you will pay $200 for a textbook you may not use often, and they will only buy your book back for less than $10. Bookstores are a rip-off!
      • If your professor WROTE the textbook for your class, you will not be able to buy or sell it online...only at a campus bookstore. So when you are trying to sell the book back at the end of the year, try finding a student that will be taking their class the next semester and sell it to them instead. 
        • P.S. If your professor wrote the textbook for your class, you WILL have to read it -- actually read it -- not just skim it and cram it in before a test. You can't "B.S." essay or test questions with these professors. They know it all -- and since they wrote the book, there's not an easy way of making a decent grade in the class unless you slave over studying and reading for that class. 
        • I would not suggest signing up for a class where the professor wrote their own textbook. 
      • Bookstores will tell you to buy the "updated version" of a textbook. But I asked a professor once if this was actually necessary and he said it was not. Updated versions of textbooks might only have a few sections of the textbook changed or updated, and the rest of the book is the same. So you might be better off purchasing the "used" or older versions of a textbook for much cheaper. Just don't get a textbook that is more than two versions old. 
      • There are many textbooks that you can CHECK OUT at the libraries on campus! For free. Check on this before purchasing the book. The only problem you may run into is being able to check it out -- as it may already be taken.
      • If you buy a new textbook that is wrapped in plastic, DO NOT remove the plastic wrap until you have gone to that class and know 100% you will be using the textbook throughout the semester. I have purchased an expensive textbook, unwrapped the plastic, and found out a couple days into class that we wouldn't be using it that much -- at least not $150 worth of use. We only ended up using the textbook a total of 5 times. If you don't unwrap the plastic wrap on the book, you can get a full refund. If you unwrap it, you will only get partial refund. 
      • Know somebody in your class? Split the cost of the textbook and study together. Or make friends with someone in class and do the same. 
    • Moving In & Moving Out:
      • When you move in, take pictures and give a very detailed list of all the damage and flaws of the house -- ceiling to floor. We have been charged for "damage" that was not our fault, but we had no previous proof of it upfront. 
      • If you have an apartment or duplex, cleaning is one of the most annoying and frustrating parts of moving out. Almost every single time, we have been ripped off and still charged for "uncleaned areas" -- yet we spent HOURS of deep cleaning labor, Cinderella style, and still got charged for an "unclean" house. My advice: hire a cleaning crew (carpet cleaning, mainly) and have proof of the service with your receipt. That way they can't charge you for it, and it will save you a lot of sweat and tears.
      • If you are going home for the summer, but your lease will still be active, try finding a sub-leaser to cut on costs. You will want to post your room/house as early as February to find someone who will want to move in for the summer. Also, if you have a difficult time finding someone, cut your rent cost by $100 a month or offer to have utilities paid for. You'll find someone in a hurry -- it's better than paying the full amount for the months you are not living there. 
        • IMPORTANT: Treat this as an interview process -- don't allow just anyone to live in your house. I've had a sketchy, non-student live in my house and they tried not paying several times, and left early without pay. And they did drugs. Just awesome. In some cases, it might be better to just break the lease early and pay the cost upfront to the landlords/leasers.

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