Before committing to a college, there are always questions an incoming freshman is dying to get answered.
Where should I dorm? Is the food absolute trash? Will it be easy for me to make friends?
If you were to ask these questions on Accepted Students day or on an MSU tour, you would probably get a flowery answer perfectly designed to quash your fears. I wanted to go beyond that. I created a survey where potential Class of 2020 members could ask anything they wanted without fear of judgment. After gathering an assortment of real MSU seniors, the questions were answered. No flowers in sight.
- Are there any actual parties for underclassmen?
Benjamin Bleezarde, Film Major – Not a lot. Since it’s a dry campus the only place you can openly have alcohol is at The Village. To get there you’d have to meet some juniors and seniors and get invited to the parties they have there. Even then you have to be careful. I know one person who was underage and got caught drinking at The Village. She had to deal with some academic repercussions.
- What are the best dorm halls for a freshman?
Danielle DeSisto, Theater Major – I think the best dorm for freshmen is Russ because it’s very homey – it has carpet and it isn’t painted asylum white!
Meredith Pircher, Television Production Major – I’m an RA in Russ and both Russ and Freeman are very good environments for freshmen to come into. The buildings are nice because neither have communal bathrooms but they still offer a great experience of a warm and welcoming community to meet people in.
- How are the dorm rooms?
Danielle DeSisto – I dormed in Dinallo in a single room for the entirety of college. I thought the room was a good size and I liked that I had control over my heat and A/C.
Benjamin Bleezarde – The dorms range a lot in quality, as there are a lot of different dorm buildings. None of them are bad, but some are definitely better than others. Freeman is generally considered the worst. The rooms are small. The Heights buildings are nice. They’re some of the newest, and have Sam’s Place right there which is good food. Most people try to get into the village in their junior and senior years as it’s more like having an apartment than a dorm.
- Are there fun things to do on/off campus?
Talia Chaves, Journalism Major – I think Montclair does a pretty decent job of having events and sharing them with students. Once you become a student you’ll get your official Montclair e-mail, which always gets filled with e-mails from the school showing off the latest events for students.
Benjamin Bleezarde – There are a lot of clubs on campus that throw events pretty regularly. Also, the main street of Montclair has a lot of fun things to do. And of course, NYC is just a short train ride away.
- Exactly how easy is it to go to NY?
Josie Amaro, Accounting Major – It’s really easy on the weekdays. The NJ transit trains run right from MSU to Penn Station. But on the weekends, that train line doesn’t run. So you have to get to one of the other nearby train stations or take a bus.
- Is it true that it’s really quiet on the weekends? What’s a typical Saturday and Sunday at Montclair State?
Danielle DeSisto – The campus is VERY quiet on weekends. A typical Saturday and Sunday resemble a ghost town.
Benjamin Bleezarde – Yeah most of the dorm students just stay in their dorms on the weekends, commuters don’t have much of a reason to drive to campus on the weekends unless there’s a specific event or something. The campus can be really peaceful on the weekends because of this. If you’re someone who likes to be outside but doesn’t like to be around tons of people, and just listen to the birds, feel the breezes, then weekends at MSU are for you.
- How is the nightlife on weekends? Where does everyone go on the weekends to rage?
Benjamin Bleezarde – Well since it is a dry campus, (except for the village) there isn’t a huge party scene on campus. There is the occasional party thrown in a dorm but it usually gets shut down. There are parties more regularly in the village, but again if it gets too rowdy it gets shut down. (But it’s definitely more lenient there.) A lot of people go to the local bars in Montclair to drink on the weekends. Also, many people go to NYC for the nightclubs and party scene. A lot of places near the school give discounts to students so that’s a plus.
- How diverse is the population at MSU?
Josie Amaro – I’m Hispanic and I know I’ve met plenty of other people like me in the last four years here. There are actually clubs and sororities that are dedicated to helping people with certain backgrounds meet people similar to them. I took Chinese classes in high school, and at one point I was able to help Chinese students here take a trip to NYC and it was a blast. Being on a diverse campus just gives students the chance to meet a whole bunch of different people.
- What are the teachers like at MSU?
Melissa Rivera, Journalism Major – I have had professors that do an amazing job and I’ve also had professors that don’t teach. Being in a class where I don’t learn is annoying. But the professors that actually show you how to do something are awesome. Those professors make class fly by and make them interesting. Honestly using rate my professor has been a lifesaver. It has helped me pick really good professors that do their job. A lot of the material that I have learned I used in my internship or real world experiences.
- I was wondering how hard the classes are compared to high school? Are they easy to adapt to? I will be listed as a special education student.
Melissa Rivera – The classes at MSU are really only a little harder than high school. Some professors really do expect the world from you, but others realize you have other classes. Most professors do give you some notice about a test/quiz/project so as long as you do your time management it really won’t be that different. Classes are super easy to adapt to. A majority of classes are small (besides lecture) and it gives you that one on one feeling like high school. I as well was a special education student in high school and again here at MSU. I will say that MSU does have an amazing special Ed department. They are so helpful, they’ll show you around if need be. And if you ever have any type of issue you can call and expect help right away. All of the professors I had were amazing with my accommodations. I never heard “that’s not possible”, in fact, a lot of them list it in their syllabus.
Talia Chaves – Classes in college are certainly different than they are in high school, but I think it’s very easy to adapt as a freshman. A lot of the beginner general education courses at MSU almost feel like high school 2.0, where you just sharpen the skills you already have. MSU also makes sure that special education students have extra time on tests and homework assignments. Just make sure you talk to your professor about what you need before the semester starts so they know how they can help you! And make sure you’re always keeping an eye on your schedule. It’s easy to forget how soon an assignment is due when you are used to being in the same classes for a whole school year and not just a few months.
- How much is the workload for classes?
Josie Amaro – It really depends. Some classes I was staying up until one am finishing assignments and wanting to die. Other classes it was like there was this unspoken rule that there wasn’t going to be any work coming up. It was almost like the professor didn’t even want to grade it or anything. They just wanted to sleep. I always did my best to go through my future schedule and do my best to pick professors that I thought would make my semester worthwhile. So for example, if there is a class I need to take and it’s a hard one… I will go on ratemyprofessor.com and try to find the best professor for that section. If you can really nail this then you can end up with do-able semesters where you have some classes that are actually worth your time. I’ve had a job all throughout my time here and I’ve been able to juggle that with school.
- What are the 3 hour classes like?
Talia Chaves – Long! But in all seriousness, they’re not that bad. Most professors give you a 15 minute break in the middle (as they should) and you can go on your phone or leave the classroom before coming back and continuing. The thing to remember about a 3 hour class is that it IS only once a week, so it may feel long, but then you won’t have to do it again for another week anyway. Also, keep in mind that if you miss just one, it’s like missing two of any of your other classes. So make sure you show up!
Benjamin Bleezarde – Yeah exactly what Talia said. For some people the three hour classes are easier because you only have to go once a week, but if you’re someone who has trouble making it on time or consistently, it might be a problem. Also, there is usually more homework due each week since it’s essentially two class sessions worth of work each week.
- What are good clubs to join at MSU?
Benjamin Bleezarde – There are tons of clubs in all areas of interest. The Video Production Club is a lot of fun if you’re interested in film and film production. Also the Montclair Gamers Club (MUG) is a lot of fun if you like video games or tabletop games. They just get together and play games!
- How is the food on campus / where are the best places to eat?
Melissa Rivera – To me the campus food isn’t so good. Dunkin is good though! But one time Talia and I went to the student center, I want to say it was our first or second week at MSU, we ordered our food. Probably waited about an hour for it, and it wasn’t cooked well. The ketchup was also mushy. After that I went to another place on campus, with Talia again, we waited about 45-60 minutes for our food… Ever since then I tried to avoid food on campus, I just haven’t had good experiences, besides Dunkin.
Talia Chaves – I’m a picky eater in the first place, so that’s already a strike against Montclair just because I only like food a certain way. For example, sometimes the chicken tenders in the student center will be good and crispy. Other times they will be trash and taste like rubber. I guess it just depends. For someone picky like me I’d say they’d have to really search around to find what they like. The bowl of macaroni at Cafe Diem is cheap and doesn’t taste bad. You can pile it up as high as you want so long as the lid covers it. They also have really banging desserts and brownies when they are actually in stock. Stay away from the hot chocolate, though. Twice I’ve received it from there with intensely curdled milk. Dunkin will never let you down that way. I’ve only been to Red Hawk diner a few times, but I was never particularly impressed. One time I got a pasta and the cheese on top was clearly hardened and made it possible for me to pick up the entire plate of pasta by just sticking my fork in the cheese and lifting it up. In cases like that I’d say go for the vending machines. Once in my life I was able to go to Sam’s Place. They had good french fries!
- How hard is it navigating around campus?
Talia Chaves – I’ll admit it – in the beginning I was struggling. Thankfully Montclair does have a printable map on their website that I kept on me at all times when I started here. In the first couple weeks of school there are volunteers who roam around campus and have little stations set up outside buildings to help students. Before you start panicking and freaking out about being late, go up to one of the stations and just ask for help if you’re lost. The biggest issue right now is that the campus has a lot of construction going on, but hopefully that’ll go away soon.
Benjamin Bleezarde – It’s not hard at all once you learn where everything is. It’s all a centralized location so it’s not a school like Rutgers where all the buildings are spread out around the city. Also the campus isn’t HUGE, so it’s just a matter of learning which buildings are which.
- How bad are the winters on campus?
Melissa Rivera – Winters here sucked! The school doesn’t close for anything. That’s really one of the main downfalls. I wrote an article about it for WiredJersey. There was a state of emergency and we were still open. I had finals and had to go to class that day. I remember a professor couldn’t make it to class but made all the students come in.. It was horrible. The school didn’t plow the streets, my car, was sliding all over the place. They don’t shovel the sidewalks well either. It’s the worst. I feel like they don’t take all of the commuters into consideration and MSU has a lot of them, I think it’s more than half of the students here are commuters. Overall I feel like we needed a lot more snow days then we actually got.
Josie Amaro – It was snowing last year on spring break. That’s not the fault of the school, but if you’re coming from a warmer area you deserve to know the struggle.
- How long is winter break?
Arthur Wash, Audio & Sound Design Major – Winter break is pretty long, it’s a full month! This year was December 17 – January 17.
- Can you still make friends if you commute? Do the majority of people commute? Will I have a bad experience if I commute to school?
Arthur Wash – Of course you can still make friends! I’ve made some friends that I’ll never forget at MSU and I did it while still being a commuter! You’re bound to find some people in your classes that will have things in common with you. And if not, the key to finding friends is being active on campus. Try finding a club that interests you or going to the endless amount of events MSU holds. With so many people around, you’ll have amazing friends in no time! Out of the people that I’ve met, there appears to be more commuters than dormers. Commuting is a great option if you live close to campus and want to save money on tuition. The drive isn’t bad at all if you live around a half hour away, and this way you get the best of Montclair and the comfort of your home. I personally think it’s a great way to go. Commuting is hardly ever a bad experience. You’ll appreciate the campus more, honestly. I find my dorming friends complain more about the campus and the food than commuters because we aren’t forced to be there all the time. As long as you plan ahead and know when traffic is, you won’t have a problem! Oh and definitely plan your parking way ahead of time Trust me when I say making friends at MSU is easy, everyone is really nice, and care about each other. You just have to find a club you can connect with or talk to some people in your major and you’ll all of the sudden have a big family to chill with!
Talia Chaves – The majority of students at MSU are commuters. Especially as the years go on you will meet more and more commuters transferring from other campuses. When it comes to commuting and friends, your experience will really only be bad if you don’t try AT ALL. I’m a commuter who isn’t a member of any clubs. I won’t say I have a huge amount of friends, but I have met people on campus I am really close to now. If you’re shy like me, your best bet is to meet people in your major classes. After a while you will all got to know each other and become comrades. It seems scary, but just being that person who smiles and says hi to another commuter is the first step to making a friend.
Benjamin Bleezarde – I agree with Talia, I’ve been a commuter for four years and I have plenty of friends and the same opportunities on campus as everyone else. It’s just a matter of getting involved. Meet people from your classes, join clubs, hang around on campus and talk to people. You might have to go out of your comfort zone a bit, but it’s worth it.
- What made you want to come to MSU?
Melissa Rivera – The main reason I chose MSU is because of how affordable it is. I joined just when journalism was being offered at MSU for the first time. I didn’t visit the campus until after I applied. That’s when I fell for MSU. It was pretty. The views were awesome. It was just a nice campus. After speaking with directors from the school of communication and the disability center I realized this was the school for me. Everyone was super helpful. I wanted a school where the faculty helped me, I wanted the small classes, and to not finish college with so much debt. Montclair offered all of that.
Talia Chaves – I think the majority of the responses can be summed up in one word. Cheap.
- I’m just wondering what the film equipment is like at MSU? Is there a sizable array of cameras to use? Can anyone use any camera or is it limited to certain years?
Benjamin Bleezarde – The film equipment is pretty decent. It’s nothing like the bigger schools like NYU, but there’s enough to go around. For cameras we have some that only seniors can use, the rest are pretty much for anybody. We have a Red Scarlet, a Sony Fs65, two Sony F3’s, a Sony Fs700, Two Black Magic Cinema Cameras, a Canon 5d mark iii, a Canon 5d mark ii, a Canon 6d, A few Canon t2is, A Canon 60d, several Canon Xc-10’s, and a few GoPros. There’s also a decent amount of lights, grip and production gear. We just got two Dana Dolly Kits which are awesome!
If you’re thinking of joining the Montclair Class of 2020, you need to decide by May 1st. That’s the school deadline for housing deposits and payment. My form for incoming freshman questions is here! Feel free to send in more questions before May 1st.