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How To Give Your Parents A Proper Tour Of Campus

With an October away game comes the inevitable: Parents & Families Weekend. Whether you’ve been home five times since the semester started or this is the first time you’ve seen your family since you moved in in August, parents weekend is a time to catch up, relax a little, and show the fam what you’ve been up to the past few months.

Every student has a different relationship with their parents, but of course, every parent has one thing in common when they visit Penn State. They want a tour.

Of course, you could turn to Lion Ambassadors or Lion Scouts for the “official” campus tour, but you’ve probably been there and done that when you were applying to colleges. Instead, give your parents the perfect personalized tour to help them fall in love with Penn State as much as you have. We’ve got a few pointers.

The Must-Sees

The Lion Shrine

Your parents can’t leave State College without getting a family photo at the Lion Shrine. What else could they possibly use for your holiday card? Plan a little more time than you’re expecting for this. There will likely be a line of every other family that wants its own picture with the symbol of our best.

The Creamery

Before you head to the Creamery, give your parents the low-down on Bill Clinton, emphasizing that they can’t mix flavors. You never want your dad to be ~that dad~.


It sounds crazy, but there’s just something about the HUB that fascinates parents. “Yes, mom and dad, this is where I do things…on occasion…but never during lunch because wow you should see how many people cram into this place for Chick-Fil-A! Me? No, I eat healthy lunches.” If you need to kill some extra time, take them on a tour of the HUB’s numerous seating options.

A Classroom (Literally Any Classroom)

From 100 Thomas to a glorified conference room in the basement of an obscure building, your parents are undoubtedly dying to see where you do the thing you’re paying thousands of dollars to do here — learn. Show them your unassigned-assigned seat, pretend you know what you’re talking about when you explain last week’s lecture and get ready for your mom’s Facebook post humble-bragging about the whole trip and how smart you are.

Old Main

You can’t visit a college campus without checking out its flagship building. You just can’t. If the building’s open, history buff parents will certainly be impressed by the frescoes.

Bonus: Your Favorite Restaurant

While this might not technically be part of a campus tour, you’ve got to milk your parents being in town while you can. Whether you’ve fallen in love with Irving’s, the Corner Room, or a new spot like Snap Pizza, you can’t not introduce your parents to the magic of State College…letting them foot the bill, of course.

Bonus Bonus: Your Favorite Bar

The only thing better than a trip to your favorite restaurant is a trip to your favorite bar. This one’s pretty self-explanatory.

Spots To Avoid

The Dining Hall

Listen, I love the dining hall as much as the next person. Where else can you pay one price and be able to eat pizza, a burger, a salad, and Creamery ice cream? However, it’s not the place to go when your parents are in town. And trust me, they’re going to want to. Put on a brave face about how often you go to the dining hall and how much you miss home cooking.

Leave out the part about how many dollar slices you’ve eaten at Canyon at 2 a.m. unless you think it’ll help your case about home cooking. Then refer to the above note about taking your parents to your favorite restaurant.

The Bush You Puked In Last Week

We’ve all been there. But we don’t need to show our parents that we’ve been there. If you didn’t get the memo, we spend every night in the Stacks studying.

Pollock Testing Center

We don’t even have a good photo of the Pollock Testing Center, because we avoid that place like the plague. “What do you do here, sweetie?” “Well, Mom and Dad, this is where I bombed my stat exam last week.” 

Remember: Penn State’s made of sunshine, rainbows, football, and good grades.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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