Nick M: A Definitive Ranking of the BU Dining Halls

The Dining Halls: Ranked By A SENIOR WHo LOVES Food & Lacks a Dining Plan.

As a senior, and I guess technically almost an adult, I often find myself longing for the availability and structure of having a dining plan, and access to a dining hall. However, not all dining halls are created equal. BU has four open dining halls at the moment, so here is my ranking of the four open dining halls on BU’s campus. dan-gold-4_jhDO54BYg-unsplash

  1. Coming in LAST PLACE is the “Fresh Food Co. at West Campus.” To be completely honest, this is probably my least favorite because I’ve eaten here the least; I’ve never lived in/near West. That being said, I don’t think I’ve had a memorable meal here either. Perhaps a pasta carbonara here or a slice of pizza there, but nothing that sets it apart from other dining halls.
  1. In third, we have Fresh Fuel at Granby Commons – commonly referred to as Hillel. Granby offers lots of Vegan and Kosher options, and they’re always fresh and delicious. I so enjoyed their vegan pizza that my group of friends named a group chat “Vegan Cheese.” On top of the fresh food, you get an excellent view of the Charles river and a less travelled dining hall for a more quiet and intimate meal.
  1. Marciano Commons, also known as Baystate Dining Hall, has without a doubt the most pleasant atmosphere of any of the dining hall’s on campus. Wide open spaces with plenty of natural light make eating here feel relaxing and rejuvenating. My favorite food from Baystate was always the fresh fried cod sandwich. It was always deliciously crunchy and the tartar sauce was perfect.
  1. This may stir some controversy, but I really like Warren Dining. There’s certainly some nostalgia leftover from living seven floors above it freshman year, but the mainly I enjoyed many meals there. From build-your-own mac n’ cheese and burger stations, to larb and tofu bahn mi’s from the “Asian Wok Station” I’ve usually left Warren feeling satiated. It’s also incredibly convenient: next door to the COM building and CAS and literally underneath the second largest non-military dorm in the country. Warren is my winner.


Nick: The Best Places Near BU To Escape Your Room

The Best Places Near BU To Escape Your Room

My Production Professor, Mary Jane Doherty, often talked about her Thursday walks in the afternoon, referring to them as constitutionals. The term comes from England, the dictionary definition reads: “a walk, typically one taken regularly to maintain or restore good health.”

A new semester has started and this pandemic has yet to give in. With regulations and anxiety keeping me inside, I’ve been feeling a little claustrophobic.

*praise BU for their well run testing system to keep my sanity every time I sneeze or cough at the dust collecting in my room*

I realize that in order to maintain my mentaI health I will need to venture into the outside world, in spite of Boston’s harsh winters, and take a constitutional. So bundle up tight, here are The Best Places Near BU When You Need To Escape Your Room.

The Esplanade

There’s something very pacifying about staring at a body of water. I’m not sure if it's the consistency of the waves lapping against the shore, or the ocean’s vast indifference to your presence, but it’s nice to sit and watch the waves. If you cross one of the footbridges along BU Beach, you can walk (or run) right along the water. There’s some lovely foliage and some not so lovely geese, but they’re worth the trouble.

Amory Playground

What Amory lacks in size, in makes up for in character. Amory Playground, commonly referred to as Amory Park, is in the middle of Brookline, a neighborhood close by BU. It’s got beautiful architecture: old brick houses and stunning brownstones. The park itself is a beautiful, wide space with a short nature walk. Spaces like these help remove me from my own head.

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Riverway/The Fens

This is for people who need a long walk. The Fens and Riverway are part of The Emerald Necklace - a string of parks around Boston and Brookline. The winding path, accompanied by the river, is the perfect place to get lost in a podcast or a new playlist while your feet carry you to Leverett Pond In Olmsted park. The hike is worth it!


Nick: What I Gained From Being On-Campus This Semester

When BU allowed students to return to campus this fall, I had no idea what to expect. At the end of August I only took two weeks worth of clothes with me to school, believing that my time in Boston would be short-lived. Hybrid learning, multiple COVID tests a week, and no visitors seemed like a lofty goal for the University to achieve. It took me until mid-October to realize that the world hadn’t ended and I was living many students’ dreams of being on campus. I am so glad I decided to return to BU.

This semester has been full of unforeseen opportunities for me. I was lucky enough to be part of BUTV10’s “The Vote,” which was our TV station’s election coverage program. As the alumni correspondent, I interviewed various BU alumni like Channing Curtis and Adrian Thomas  successful journalists from across the country  about their thoughts on battleground states, the event of a contested election, and many other problems that seem insignificant now. I was also part of the writing team. We wrote tosses for our anchors to lead into segments, and on election night we wrote polling updates. The process was made even better by our ability to use the studio  with the proper safety precautions  to do the show. 

The energy when putting together a show like that is unbeatable. It’s the adrenaline rush you get when you’re playing basketball with a cohesive team and everyone keeps sinking shots. It’s the feeling of pulling off a showstopping song-and-dance number when the whole ensemble hits every note and lands every step. It’s the type of feeling I didn’t think I’d experience during a pandemic, and I couldn’t have experienced it in the same capacity at home.

“The Vote” was the product of over 50 brilliant students' blood, sweat, and tears. If you’re sick of election talk, I understand. But if you’re not, please check out “The Vote” on, it’s 4+ hours of outstanding reporting, intense hard work, and no advertisements. If you want a comprehensive look at the passion and drive of the students at BU’s College of Communications, “The Vote” is indicative of that passion. It’s that same passion that brought me to BU in the first place.

Nick: Three BU-Related Movies to Watch While in Quarantine


Although classes are still going on, I have been left with a lot of free time thanks to my current quarantine status in New York City. I’ve been taking advantage of my “freedom” by cleaning my room and catching up on movies and TV shows I’ve been meaning to watch. On my list are three movies to enjoy in quarantine - they ALSO relate to BU:

  • Uncut Gems

The Safdie Brothers - two BU COM alumni - directed this masterpiece of anxiety, crime, and drama. Josh and Benny Safdie graduated from BU’s film and TV program in 2007 and 2008 respectively. The film stars Adam Sandler and won several Film Independent Spirit awards. Uncut Gems was also nominated for a couple Golden Globes but was snubbed at the Oscars! While no one needs an anxiety boost right now, the movie will certainly make you forget about everything else going on. All in all, it’s a great film!

  • Spotlight 
    1. Spotlight is a Boston movie through and through; It follows the Spotlight team of the Boston Globe working to uncover child sexual abuse and assault cases that had been hushed by the Catholic church. It stars Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, John Slattery, and Stanley Tucci. Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams play Michael Rezendes and Sacha Pfeiffer, respectively - two BU alumni! The Spotlight team won a Pulitzer prize for their work, and the film won Best Picture at the Oscars… Need I say more?
  • Spenser Confidential

 Spenser Confidential is a new action-comedy available to stream on Netflix. The movie stars Mark Wahlberg and Winston Duke as two ex-cop/ex-convicts taking down criminals in the streets of Boston. What relates to BU specifically? The film was shot on BU’s west campus, by Life Alive and Otto Pizza on Commonwealth Ave! While it’s unlikely to win any awards, it could act as a fun escape from the boring walls of your room.

Nick: Thank You COM

College is a crazy time. You’ll meet lifelong friends and lose some others. You’ll be thankful for your newfound freedom and you’ll miss home. You’ll try new things and fall into old habits. You’ll stay up until 3 in the morning laughing with your roommates and turn to those same people when you experience hardship and heartbreak. There aren’t many constants during this time in your life, but for me, the one constant has been COM.

COM showed me the way when I arrived on campus eager to start writing about sports within 30 seconds. COM introduced me to my roommates, one of whom I met through BU’s independent newspaper, the Daily Free Press, and another whom I befriended within the first month of college. COM allowed me to grow and adapt to a constantly changing journalism landscape through its robust curriculum. I got experience at the anchor desk, as the producer of a live half-hour newscast and as a reporter for the largest tech conference in the world in Las Vegas. COM gave me a second home at Undergraduate Affairs, where I’ve worked alongside some of the most dedicated and compassionate people in the building.

My FreeP fam will always have a special place in my heart.

And the COM Ambassador program has introduced me to so many driven, passionate and caring people that remind me every day why I chose COM almost four years ago. I’ve loved the experience of mentoring incoming freshmen and showing them the ropes; some have become my closest friends at BU. To my fellow CAs, thank you for inspiring me with your talent and creativity. COM really is like a family. Everyone in the building, from your classmates to your professors, is there to support you as you chase your dreams.

During my time as a COM Ambassador, I’ve had the opportunity to explain to families from around the country why I love COM. And it’s not that difficult a task. I fell in love with COM the second I took a tour of the building during senior year of high school. As I write my final COM blog post just over a month before graduation, it’s only fitting that it happens to be the same day as the COM open house.

Nick Picht and Pete Zampa were my senior mentors freshman year, and I've loved the chance to do the same for other freshmen as a CA.

I’ve worked open houses since my freshman year in high school, and I remember how impactful my COM open house was. I’m still good friends with two of the kids I sat next to that day. Listening to Professor McKeen lead the journalism department presentation at today’s open house for the class of 2022 (WOW) made it feel like my COM journey had truly come full circle.

I heard him talk about all the professional opportunities at COM, BU’s strong relationship with major media companies in Boston and some of the work of our exceptional faculty. I saw myself in a wide-eyed freshman as he asked what sports journalism opportunities are available here. The answer is plenty. And side note: COM just hired a local sportswriting celebrity – Michael Holley of NBC Sports Boston and formerly of WEEI. Holley’s hiring is just another example of COM’s commitment to providing their students with only the best.

Senior CAs in September. We're weeping because we love COM.
Senior CAs in September. We're weeping because we love COM.

McKeen’s speech resonated with me when he told prospective students and future journalists that “journalism is the purest form of public service because you’re giving people the information they need to survive.” This passion and fervor for the field excites me every day I walk into COM, and gives me the confidence to pursue a career in the news industry.

A soon-to-be member of the class of 2022 told me today at the open house that I was part of his decision to apply early decision to BU. My face lit up. This is why we do what we do. I’m excited for that student, and quite frankly, after the open house, I wish I were in his shoes. I wish I could come to COM, pick a COM ambassador and do it all over again. But my time is almost over, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m thankful every day that I chose COM, and I know it’ll always be home.


Nick: 10 Things I Wish I Knew as a BU Freshman

I only have a little more than two months left on Comm. Ave. as a student, and as exciting as that may seem, it’s also pretty daunting. No less daunting, though, than first arriving on campus as a freshman. The feelings I’m having now as I look for my first job are the same ones I felt in the fall of 2014 – anxious, scared, uneasy, unsure. But not to worry. If you’re new to BU, I’ve got some tips for you. Below are 10 quick tips I’ve picked up along the way that I think would be useful for any BU freshman, or any BU student for that matter. 

1. Get a semester T Pass

You may think, “Oh, Comm. Ave. is walkable, I’ll never need to take the T.” Wrong. As unreliable as the MBTA is, it’s indispensable for any BU student. Especially now that I live in West campus, taking the T to COM on a time crunch is the way to go. It’s cheaper than buying a pass every month, and if you plan on doing a lot of traveling around the city, it pays for itself quickly. Be on the lookout early, though. I’ve missed the deadline a few times because it’s just before the semester starts.

2. The “freshman dorms” are your friends

I was unsure about Warren Towers and West campus when I first arrived at BU, but I shouldn’t have been. I spent my first year in a brownstone on Bay State Road, and while I loved that space for its peace and quiet during study time, I made my best friends at Warren and spent a great chunk of my free time there. Being on a floor with so many of your classmates is super valuable – make the most of it. Keep your door open and don’t be afraid to make new friends.

3. Join BU On Broadway

One of my only regrets about my college career is that I didn’t join BU On Broadway sooner. It’s an amazing group with amazing people, and the perfect outlet for any theater geek to continue their high school passion in college. Semesters only get busier when you become an upperclassman, so make the most of your free time as a freshman and get onstage.

I joined BU On Broadway sophomore year, but would do anything for more time performing in Tsai.
I joined BU On Broadway sophomore year, but would do anything for more time performing in Tsai.
  1. COM swipe access is a major key

    Though COM students now have access to the entire Adobe Suite, if you’re like me, you prefer to do your editing in COM. I bet you’re thinking, “But I thought COM closes at nine, Nick…” And while that’s technically true, with swipe access you’ll be able to get into COM later and finish any work. Just get a professor’s sign-off and go see the tech-guru himself, Brad Fernandes in room 102. You’ll thank me later.

  2. Don’t be afraid to take classes in other colleges

    With the BU Hub on its way, taking classes across colleges at BU has never been more attractive for COM students. I only took the necessary classes outside of COM to fulfill my major and minor, but I know there are a few classes in CFA I would have loved to explore. Don’t make the same mistake. And thanks to BU’s pass/fail policy, you really have no excuse not to take that music theory course you’ve been eyeing.

    6. 26th floor of Stuvi2 & 6th floor of Mugar are ideal study spots

    This one took me awhile to perfect, and while I’m ashamed to admit it, I hadn’t studied in Stuvi2 until junior year. The views of the Charles River and downtown Boston from the 26th floor are truly the best in the entire city. And the sixth floor of Mugar is one of the only places in the library that isn’t constantly packed. I don’t mind the view from up there, either. Hey, it beats studying in your dorm.

The views atop Stuvi2 are stunning, and the location also makes for an ideal study spot.
The views atop Stuvi2 are stunning, and the location also makes for an ideal study spot.


  1. Take advantage of all the great events BU has to offer

    In just the past month, I’ve seen Obama’s White House photographer and took part in a discussion about media in the age of Trump featuring the executive producer of POLITICO podcasts. This is just a sampling of some of the events going on around campus that interest me, and things are happening every day. During my freshman year I generally kept my head down and studied, and while there’s a time for that, be careful not to miss some of the extraordinary opportunities here through COM, the Howard Thurman Center and BU at large.

    8. Don’t miss the Power of Narrative Conference

Journalism majors and anyone who loves a good story – this is a must. Every march BU hosts this unique conference featuring some of the finest narrative journalists in the world. It’s an opportunity to meet industry leaders and strengthen your storytelling skills. This year’s guests include ESPN’s Don Van Natta (BU alum), Emily Steel of the New York Times and longtime NYT feature writer Sonny Kleinfield.

9. U-Grill is a Hidden Gem

Though it’s only about a three-minute walk from COM, it took me until sophomore year to discover University Grill & Pizza. It’s one of the best places on campus for a quick bite. The chicken parm is my go-to, but their menu is full of cheap and tasty opstions. The service is fast, the food is always hot and the folks working there are super friendly – always willing to talk some Boston sports. (Sadly, no convenience points accepted.)

10. Apply to be a COM ambassador

The COM ambassador program has been one of my best experiences at BU. It has introduced me to so many incredible people, and I’ve even mentored some incoming freshmen through the program that have become great friends. Being involved with open houses, giving tours to prospective families and writing these blogs has given me a whole new appreciation for my school. APPLY APPLY APPLY! You’ll be glad you did.

The senior COM ambassadors - smiling because in this picture we still had a year left in COM.
The senior COM ambassadors - smiling because in this picture we still had a year left in COM.




Nick: The Art of Saying No

If you’re a COM student, chances are you’ve got a very busy schedule. Sometimes students in other colleges at BU will scoff at the fact that most COM classes only meet once a week, but they’re forgetting one key point: all the work that happens outside the classroom. One of the best things about COM is you’re practicing the skills necessary for your career from day one. If you want to be a journalist, you’re out covering stories and conducting interviews. If you want to be a director, you’re putting those skills to the test on your short films. If you want to be a producer, you’re scheduling shoots and putting potential producing prowess on display.

But all this great professional experience lends itself to a familiar COM dilemma… “I don’t have enough free time.” Between balancing schoolwork, likely a myriad of extracurriculars and a possible part-time job, finding time to sit back and binge-watch Stranger Things may not be as easy as you’d like. Which leads me to the solution: the art of saying no.
Now if you’re anything like me, you tend to overbook yourself to the max (iCal has become my best friend). I want to make everyone happy, and this often means that I say yes to things that I later regret. If you overbook yourself, you could end up losing sleep, skipping meals or getting sick.
So one of the best lessons I’ve learned in COM, especially my senior year, is to take care of myself and sometimes turn things down if I know they would only make my life more difficult. Don’t wait as long as I did.
With added free time this semester, I was able to be perform in Stage Troupe's production of Grease with some pretty awesome dudes.
Turning down an internship for fall of my senior year was a difficult decision, but one I felt was necessary. I had come off a busy summer interning with both WEEI, writing content for their website, and NBC Boston’s investigative team. My schedule was pretty busy as it was, and I considered interning on my two free days without work or class. Let’s just say I’m happy with the decision I made. As it turns out, those days have proven to be valuable times to schedule interviews, shoot b-roll for class video packages and sometimes just unwind and watch TV.
I was also tempted to take on more responsibility in my extracurriculars, but decided to go another route. Without being bogged down by my extracurriculars, I auditioned for another show this semester and was cast in Stage Troupe’s production of Grease. I have always loved performing, and figured this could be one of my last opportunities to do something like this. It didn’t have to do with my major or advance my career, but that’s ok. Sometimes you need to do things for yourself.
With the added free time, I was also able to book a flight to Washington, DC in early October for the annual Online News Association conference. This was an incredible experience – both in terms of returning to a city that I love and also networking opportunities. This would not have been possible if I didn’t say “no thanks” every once in awhile.

And best of all, with my added free time I’m able to spend more quality time with my friends, some of whom are either graduating in December or headed to do the LA program for the spring semester. You’re only in college once, and it’s important to remember that you have the rest of your life to work. Find some time while you’re at BU to turn down an offer and go to that Red Sox game, spend the night at the ICA, check out some of the delicious eats in the North End. You’ll be glad you did.

Carter, Simon and I spontaneously bought tickets to a Red Sox playoff game, and it was one of the best days of the semester.

Nick: The Power of Friendship

As I sit on the third floor of COM and await my next FPS reservation, it’s easy to get nostalgic about the last three years. Being a senior is a weird feeling, and I’m not sure it has set in quite yet. On one hand, this is the first time I’ve been on campus since last fall, and I’m eager to reconnect with old friends and make the most of every remaining second I have in college. On the other hand, you’re basically forced to have one foot out the door so you can prepare for post-grad life and, gulp, the dreaded unknown that is the real world.

When I look back at my BU career to this point, many things stand out. My on-air experience through BUTV10, my time onstage, long nights at the Daily Free Press office during the fall of my junior year, getting up at three in the morning for Meet the Press every Sunday last spring, to name a few. COM has given me so much in the way of practical experience, but that’s hardly the most important thing. What I remember most about these years are the people I’ve met, the mentors who have helped me along the way and the lifelong friendships I’ve forged.

Jane and I produce Offsides, and I have COM to thank for bringing us together. She's been there since day 1 freshman year when we didn't even know how to read off a teleprompter
Jane and I produce Offsides, and I have COM to thank for bringing us together. She's been there since day 1 freshman year when we didn't even know how to read off a teleprompter

Sure, I’ll remember Offsides, BUTV’s only pro sports talk show, and the progress my fellow producers and I have made to improve it, but I’ll remember the people first. Nick Picht, who produced Offsides my freshman year, went from being an intimidating senior to one of my closest friends and mentors. He took me under his wing and has advised me throughout my college career. I couldn’t be more grateful for that, and I hope to be that same person to another freshman. I also got a job at the Boston Globe sophomore year through another Offsides friend – build these relationships and your network will grow along with your friendships.

My time onstage has been memorable and fun – it’s an important outlet amid all my other career-focused activities (so much so that I’ve decided to give another go this semester). But once again, it’s all about the relationships. I decided to do BU On Broadway’s American Idiot sophomore year with my best friend, and I left the process with 20 additional best friends. College can be rough, and having a support system to turn to is crucial – it doesn’t matter where you find it, but it matters that it’s there.

Ah, the Daily Free Press. BU’s independent student newspaper has shaped my college experience and given me unmatched journalistic experience, but I never would have stuck with it had I not been surrounded by such wonderful people at the FreeP. I met my roommate there, and plenty others who I’m certain will remain in my life long after we’ve entered the esteemed realm of COM alumni. The long hours and UBurger trips were tough on me, but my friends kept me going. Someone once asked me if COM kids are competitive. From what I’ve seen, COM students are motivated to pursue similar goals, and they’re eager to see their friends reach and surpass them.

 Long hours at the FreeP office flew by with these goons by my side. Justin, Nick and Jon were my FreeP sports partners-in-crime first, but over time became some of my best friends at BU
Long hours at the FreeP office flew by with these goons by my side. Justin, Nick and Jon were my FreeP sports partners-in-crime first, but over time became some of my best friends at BU

My internship with “Meet the Press” in the spring was transformative in ways I could’ve never imagined. I met senators, members of Congress and governors, but the group of friends I made through the BUDC program is one of the biggest reasons why I enjoyed my semester there as much as I did.

I’ve been asked on tours, “What’s it like to go to a school as big as BU?” And I always come back to the same answer: BU doesn’t seem that big if you find your niche and surround yourself with a network of support. Then, not only does Comm. Ave. start to seem smaller, but COM does as well. And COM is such a tight-knit community anyway because of its size. The people you meet here will not only be your peers, your camera operators when you need to a standup and your editors, they will be lifelong friends.

Nick: Being Open to Change

Studies show that anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of college students change their major at some point, and that’s ok. While I’m not among this group, I am here to tell you that over the course of your college career, your passions will evolve as you are presented with the world of opportunities available to you in COM.

Whether this is inside the classroom, through one of BU’s myriad of extracurricular activities, or in my case through one of our study abroad programs, you won’t be the same person crossing that stage on graduation day – and stepping on the BU seal in Marsh Plaza – as you were when you first arrived on campus as a freshman. And that’s the way it should be. 

I’m a creature of habit. I have the same order at UBurger every time (Phat Chick crispy with a side of fries) and sit in the same spot at Mugar (6th floor is where it’s at), but I’ve come to realize that change is a good thing. College is the time where you’re meant to truly find yourself. It’s your full Cory Matthews in “Boy Meets World” period.

For me, much of that change and growth has unexpectedly happened this semester during my time in our nation’s capital through the BUDC program. First off, I give this program my highest recommendation. Whether you’re a journalism or PR student, or simply someone with a passion for the news or politics, this program is for you.

 I’ve learned more than I could’ve ever imagined, and the opportunities within the program are incredible. BUDC hosts a bunch of networking events throughout the semester with alums in the area, and I can assure you, there are plenty. Additionally, you’re interning and taking classes in one of the most beautiful cities in the country, not to mention the hub of American democracy. I’ve seen so much during my four months here, but with all the museums, historic neighborhoods and brunch spots, you could explore DC for a lifetime and never get bored.

This is where the change part comes in. Up until last semester, I was the sports guy. That was my thing at BU. I served as sports editor of the Daily Free Press last semester and wanted to parlay my education at BU into a career in sports journalism. My decision to come to DC was based on a number of factors, but high on the list were the chances to develop professionally, explore a new city, and become more well-rounded as a reporter. Little did I know that I would develop a passion for politics and become a news junkie.

The 2016 presidential election piqued my interest in politics, and I doubt I would’ve come to DC had I not already been following the campaign. But for someone who gets push notifications every three innings about the Red Sox score, getting the latest updates from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing was not high on my agenda. BUDC and my internship changed all that.

I’m interning for NBC’s “Meet the Press” this semester, the longest-running show on television. It has been incredibly eye-opening to assist in the day to day operations of such a highly-respected public affairs program and work closely with producers. Much of my duties involve research and greeting guests on Sunday mornings, but I’ve also written some pieces for Through observing Chuck Todd daily and being a part of this institution, I am following the news of the day more closely than ever.

My career ambitions have shifted somewhat thanks to this program. Though I’m not entirely sure where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing post-grad in just over a year (eek), I know I don’t want to just be the sports guy. The political journalism scene has become more attractive than ever before to me, and I would welcome the opportunity to tell stories about how the decisions lawmakers are making on Capitol Hill affect the lives of every American. That’s why I got into journalism in the first place, right? To tell stories and help educate people.

My point in explaining this shift is that at its very core, college is a time for self-discovery. COM is a goldmine of opportunity for you to explore any number of interests, and even delve into ones you weren’t sure you had. My advice would be to take that random class or join that random club; open as many doors as you can during your time at one of the world’s best universities. You may never know what life-changing experience is behind that door.

Nick: Five Movies Sure to Put You in the Christmas Spirit

As the calendar turns to December, it can bring lots of different emotions. On the one hand, there’s the nervousness and anxiousness of closing the semester on a strong note, finishing final papers, and studying for exams. On the other hand, there’s the excitement and joy associated with the holiday season. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been listening to that Christmas Spotify playlist since the beginning of November. So in the spirit of Christmas, I’ve selected my top five Christmas movies (in no particular order) to put that holly in your jolly this December.

 1. Elf

A true Christmas classic even though it came out only 13 years ago, I feel like Elf has entered the holiday consciousness of many. And for good reason. Lovable loser Will Ferrell grows up as a human in the North Pole raised by elves, and embarks on a spectacular journey to find his father in New York City. And as they say in the movie, all us “humans raised by humans” can sit back and enjoy the ride. Will Ferrell’s usual hilarity is there in spades, and as one of my favorite actors, his performance as Buddy the Elf just adds to my enjoyment of this film. Also, Zooey Deschanel’s Jovie provides the perfect foil to Buddy. You were probably gonna watch this one already, but son of a nutcracker, consider this a reminder.

2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Raunchy but a pure delight, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation depicts the perfect Christmas disaster for the Griswold family. Chevy Chase is back as the iconic Clark Griswold, and the misadventures that he and his family endure during the holiday season are second-to-none. It’s become a Neville family tradition that we watch this movie on the first day of Christmas vacation every year, and you should make it a part of your holiday traditions as well. Filled with unforgettable one-liners and an all-star cast, this movie may not depict the ideal Christmas, but it can certainly help you have one.

3. It's A Wonderful Life

Nominated for five Oscars and ranked as one of the top 25 movies on IMDb, It’s a Wonderful Life is not just a great holiday movie, it’s a cinematic treasure. Hollywood legend James Stewart is George Bailey, likable everyman and long-time resident of Bedford Falls. Bailey is frustrated, and an angel steps in to show him just how much of a difference one person can have on the lives of so many others. If you’re in need of a holiday pick-me-up, look no further. This heartwarming tale has become a staple at my house on Christmas Eve morning, and I highly recommend it. It’s a long one, though, 2 hours and 10 minutes to be exact, but it’s worth every minute.

4. The Santa Clause

You’ve probably heard of this Christmas classic from it’s consistent run on ABC Family’s – sorry Freeform’s – 25 Days of Christmas, but I would be remiss to leave it off this list. Comedian and Christmas movie guru (Christmas with the Kranks anyone??) Tim Allen makes his first appearance as Santa in this installment of the holiday trilogy. He stars as Scott Calvin, a man who inadvertently becomes subject to the Santa Clause after putting on the big, red suit. It’s fun for the whole family, and full of all the joy and whimsy that you’re looking for in a great Christmas movie. The other two movies are great too, but nothing beats the original.

5. Jingle All the Way

While not one of the most well-known holiday movies, Jingle All the Way is a treat for a number of reasons. First of all, who knew now Apprentice-star and former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger could be a holiday hero? Well he is in this film, and acting alongside Sinbad, the pairing goes on a Christmasy wild goose chase in search of the ever-elusive Turbo Man action figure. If you’ve ever struggled to find a gift in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, you know Arnold’s struggle here. It’s a laugh-a-minute, and the late Phil Hartman gives a hilarious performance as Arnold’s neighbor in the film. Add Jingle All the Way to your Christmas movie schedule this year – you won’t regret it.