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Lies Told By Penn State Tour Guides

You see them walking backwards around campus leading a flock of high school students and their parents all the time. Tour groups are essential to recruiting new classes of Penn Staters year after year, and many students who go on to Penn State will always remember their specific guides.

But what people in those groups don’t know is that many of their guides are spreading myths or exaggerations about Penn State that have been passed down for years or are just made up on the fly. As a former tour guide myself, I can certainly attest. Whether you remember them from your own tours way back when or have heard them in passing, here are some of the most popular white lies tour guides tell their tour groups.

1. “You’re assigned physicians at UHS your freshman year that will be with you all four years.”

This is only a luxury afforded to those who want to get health insurance through the university. As for the rest of us, we could draft a football team with all the doctors and physicians assistants we’ve had here. It’s true for some, sure, but there should be an asterisk clarifying that this does not apply to the average student.

2. “The longest walk you’ll ever make from one side of campus to the other is 15 minutes.”

LOL. I’d like to hear you tell me that to my burning shins and sweating forehead as I’m booking it from Willard to Business Building even though I’ve already accepted the fact that I’ll never make it in time. But you could always take a bus, right…

3. “You’ll never have to wait longer than 10 minutes to take a bus.”

Wrong. Even if you make the first bus that goes by (which is a slim chance if you’re anywhere near East Halls), there’s a good chance you were waiting there at least 15 to 20 minutes. And taking the bus usually takes just as long, if not longer, than walking in the end, not to mention you’re crammed in like a bunch of sardines while using every bit of your strength to not fall into some random person’s lap.

4. “Penn State was ‘recently’ ranked ____.”

Here’s what this means: At some point in time in the past five to 10 years, Penn State achieved some sort of respectable ranking. Rather than update the information, why not just use the word “recently” in extremely loose terms? This school has a lot of accolades to be proud of so it’s kinda pointless to still use old ones.

5. “The Millennium Science Complex is built on shocks.”

This one is not entirely true, but it does have some validity to it. The structure of Millennium Science Complex is built in such a way that during football games the vibrations from the stadium don’t disturb the equipment experiments. But it is not built on shock absorbers, as cool as that sounds.

6. “Ben and Jerry got a C in their ice cream making class.”

While Ben and Jerry did take an ice cream making class here at Penn State, they did not get a C in it. It was a pass or fail class. The Creamery makes bomb ice cream, sure, but the hating on Ben and Jerry is just for show.

7. “The Life Sciences Bridge is one of the best study spots on campus.”

Who studies at the Life Sciences Bridge? I don’t even know how to get up there. There are plenty of obscure, quiet, and scenic places to study on campus. So how exactly did the Life Sciences Gateway to the Sciences make the list? Because there’s not really much else to say about it, but it looks cool, so it needs a shout out.

8. “There is a 2-year waiting list to get married at the Eisenhower Chapel, and people sign their partner’s name in pencil.”

This is a classic example of a joke told for the parents, and they eat it up every time. Absolutely no high schooler touring colleges is even remotely concerned with getting married. There is a waiting list, but there is no preset time you have to wait and no one’s guessing on their future spouse just to ensure a spot in the chapel.

9. “Living off-campus is just as good as living on-campus.”

Yeah, totally! Except for the complete freedom from uptight RA’s and the not nearly as frequent bathroom cleanings. Living in an apartment or house downtown is absolutely nothing like living in the dorms. No one makes food for you. You actually have space to stretch out and store your clothes. No one’s gonna knock on your door while you scramble to put all your Vlad and shot glasses away. They’re two different worlds, each with their pros and cons, but off-campus beats on-campus by a mile.

10. Anything preceded by “rumor/legend has it.”

This is synonymous with “I’m not entirely sure what I’m saying right now/this is a complete lie, but I’m going to tell it to you anyway.” Let’s be honest, when it comes down to it, fun facts aren’t so fun when they’re not facts.

So maybe the tour guides are stretching, if not butchering, the truth at times. But hey — they’re recruiting the future classes of Penn State, and they seem to be doing a damn fine job.

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About the Author

Sarah Desiderio

Senior. Print Journalism Major, English and Sociology Minors. I'm smarter than the average 9 year old and funnier than most plants.

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