Home Best of Guides The Ultimate Montclair Guide for New Montclair State University Students

The Ultimate Montclair Guide for New Montclair State University Students

by Katherine Chaves Diaz
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Whether you’re a freshman, a transfer student, or a Montclair native, it can be overwhelming getting to know a new campus, especially seeing the town in a new light. To help, we’ve put together a ‘crash course’ to being a new Montclair State University (MSU) student that includes everything to know: from parking to local news, where to go food shopping or clothing shopping, and much more. Keep reading to learn how to get through and enjoy your first year of college at Montclair State University and all the things to do in Montclair, NJ.

montclair state university

Quick 411 on Montclair

Known as the ‘urban suburb’ in Essex County, Montclair has been named one of the best places to live, according to Niche. There’s no time to be bored because Montclair is filled with coffee shops, boutiques, parks, art centers, restaurants, and bakeries.

Montclair also has been and is still currently home to many famous people like cosmetics guru Bobbi Brown, TV personality Stephen Colbert, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and more. Conveniently, the town is also very close to NYC and has a good amount of train stations, two of which are at Montclair State University.


Montclair is largely known as a commuter school and as a result, there are tons of drivers looking for the closest parking spot every day. Both commuter and resident students must get a permit for parking unless they choose to pay the daily Red Hawk deck parking fee.

There are different parking permits and all are priced differently. The Red Hawk Deck permit will cost more due to its proximity to campus, especially the Feliciano School of Business.

The less costly permit has greater flexibility, as pass holders can park at any of the commuter lots and take the shuttle to campus or walk.

Another option is to park at CarParc Diem, which is pretty close to campus. Park here and get a workout in with the infamous CarParc stairs.

It should be noted that because there are so many students arriving at the same time for classes, it might be difficult to find parking at CarParc. Usually, when lots are full, MSU will have an electric road sign upon entering which will inform drivers which lots are filled up.

Public Transit

Montclair State does have many lines of public transportation with bus stops and train locations to facilitate exploring the greater North Jersey and NYC area. The MSU bus stop is located on College Avenue, in front of the Red Hawk Deck. The Montclair Heights Train Station is located on Normal Avenue and the MSU Train Station is located at 100 Clove Road.

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Red Hawk Dollars, What Are They?

Red Hawk Dollars is a pre-paid debit program. Participation is optional and through students’ University ID cards, they can buy items like books, food, and clothing. It is accepted at the University Bookstore, University Dining Services, Campus Vending Machines, select off-campus merchants, and more. Red Hawk Dollars are also accepted off-campus at locations like Alexus Steakhouse, the local Applebees, The Pizza Terminal, Whole Foods, and more.

Work-Study + Career Searching

Montclair State offers two employment programs: the federal work-study and student assistant. The federal work-study is a federally supported employment program for students who are eligible based on their FAFSA. For students who are not eligible for the federal work-study, the student assistant program is a University employment program and financial need is not a requirement for participation.

MSU has a career services management system called Hire A Red Hawk which students can use to find positions to fit the bill, whether it be an internship, seasonal employment, part- or full-time work. The office also offers career workshops and resume builders.

Montclair Guides

Here are some Montclair-related guides we’ve written for your enjoyment + exploration:

School Supplies

Many freshmen buy the textbook before the first day of class but MG tip: don’t, unless you will be using it for years to come because of your major, or a course requirement. Renting a book or looking for a free version of it online goes a long way. Some professors don’t require a specific textbook because they know how expensive these books are. Be sure to check your syllabus for how to handle each course’s materials requirements.

Chegg is a student favorite for buying, selling, and renting books. Students like it for multiple reasons, one of them being that it offers books at a fair price.

For other school supplies, MSU does have a bookstore where you can find your books, pens, paint, canvas, calculators, and other last-minute items.

Not Just Ramen for Dinner

Yes, we all love ramen; it’s quick, easy, and cost-efficient. MSU has some great spots right on campus. A few of the many options on-campus are Jersey Mike’s, Panera Bread, Au Bon Pain, and Panda Express. Once the Red Hawk Diner finally re-opens, that will be another option. For residents who want to cook, some nearby grocery stores are Stop & Shop, ACME, Shoprite, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Target. And don’t forget to explore all the restaurants Montclair has to offer.

Get Involved, Network

As corny as it may sound and you’ve probably heard it already but here it is again – get involved. MSU has so many clubs and organizations to offer, it’s a great way to keep up with your interests outside of your coursework. Many of these organizations are great networking opportunities.  Even as a commuter, it is still possible to join these clubs. As a commuter, students can join and participate in a few organizations, one of them being Commuter Life where participants are paired with a commuter mentor. There is also Feliciano Women in Business, Account Society, Marketing Club, LASO, Active Minds, Montclair State Dietetics Organization, Pre-Law society, and much more. Joining these organizations is worth it and they make the college experience more enjoyable.

Postal Services

MSU’s postal service is located in the University Facilities Building at 147 Clove Road in Little Falls (the long building in Lot 60). But they do want customers to note that they should continue to use 1 Normal Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07043 address for all packages and mail.

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Emergency Contact Info

MSU Police Dept: 973-655-5222
MSU Certified Emergency Response Team: 973-655-7932
MSU Counseling & Psychological Services: 973-655-5211
MSU University Health Center: 973-655-4361
MSU Weather Hotline: 973-655-7810
Municipal Clerk’s Office: 973-509-4900

How to Guest Post for The Montclair Girl

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