Southern Vermont College sophomore Bridget Kelly leads various counselors through the campus on Thursday afternoon. (Holly Pelczynski/Bennington
Southern Vermont College sophomore Bridget Kelly leads various counselors through the campus on Thursday afternoon. (Holly Pelczynski/Bennington Banner/photos.benningtonbanner.com)

BENNINGTON -- Forty high school guidance counselors from around the country stopped in Bennington on Thursday, on day five of a six-day bus tour of 18 of Vermont's colleges.

The bus tour, organized by the Consortium of Vermont Colleges, stopped at both Southern Vermont College and Bennington College on Thursday afternoon. The tour, in its 35th year, allows guidance counselors from around the country to spend two hours at each college, so as to better advise their students on educational opportunities in Vermont. The tour began last Sunday and will end Friday morning.

Jeremy Gibbons, president of the Consortium and admissions director at SVC, greeted the group in the Greenberg Atrium in Hunter Hall on the SVC campus. Consortium presidents serve the organization for one year, from September to September. Gibbons noted, as he welcomed the assembled counselors, that he himself had taken the bus tour on two occassions.

While he pointed out the magnificent scenery visible from the SVC campus, Gibbons especially praised the community at SVC, both the faculty and the students, saying that they were what kept him loving his job every day.

Faculty member Jeb Gorham, who is head of the Sports Management program at the college, spoke about how accessible the faculty is, and how this helps contribute to the overall welcoming feel of the campus community.

After the brief introductory talk, the visiting counselors were taken on what Gibbons described as an abbreviated campus tour, followed by a question-and-answer session with a student panel and some light refreshments, before the group had to leave for their commitment at Bennington College later in the afternoon.

The website of the Consortium describes the program as the "Granddaddy of Bus Tours," as it visits 18 colleges in six days. The counselors signed up for the program by providing a $100 deposit. Because only 40 people were allowed to attend, the Consortium limited participation to one representative per high school. Housing, transportation, and most meals are provided by the Consortium. The tour began and will end at Burlington Airport. "It's up to each college to decide what aspects they would like to showcase," said Gibbons.

"As we traverse the state, you will have the opportunity to see the different personalities of Vermont," reads a blurb from the program's web page, "We'll travel from bucolic rural areas to the golden domed state house in the capital city to the distinctive pedestrian walkway of Church Street Marketplace in Vermont's most populous city. The eighteen institutions you will visit are as diverse as the landscape -- they offer virtually every option for higher education."

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB