Heard it from a Friend Who

Oftentimes the link between a student and Excelsior is a friend, co-worker, brother, sister, advisor in a military education office or at a community college, supervisor, spouse, or even a parent who earned a degree from the College and suggested their offspring do the same.


When Emily Riley was preparing to attend Commencement in 2016, she shared her experiences for the blog Excelsior Life. What did earning her Bachelor of Science in Business mean to her?
“A lot of pride,” she said. “It took me a long time to get here. I’m really proud that I succeeded and I can say that I now have a bachelor’s degree.” Riley had learned about Excelsior as a student at SUNY Broome, a community college in Binghamton, New York. SUNY Broome has a 3 + 1 program with Excelsior (students take up to 90 credits toward their bachelor’s degree at their community college and the final 30 credits with Excelsior), so Riley moved from her associate degree directly to her bachelor’s degree program.


“My sister had graduated from Excelsior so she knew all about it and kind of could help with guiding me…it really made signing up and all of that painless without question. She had already
been through it all, so I went right to her and talked to her.”


School of Health Sciences Faculty Program Director Lisa Rapple may now be working for the College, but at one time, she didn’t know what it was. She earned her associate degree in respiratory therapy from SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, before becoming the clinical coordinator for the respiratory care program at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York, and then moving on to teach in North Carolina. She was determined to pursue her education and so while working, she took courses at Syracuse University, UAlbany, and East Carolina University.

Upon returning to New York, she heard talk of Excelsior. She explains, “What managers were doing was typically getting a degree with Empire State [College] or Excelsior College, which I knew little to nothing about either one of them.” Her boss had been attending Empire State College and had been struggling to complete his degree. Rapple wanted to pursue her graduate degree and recalls thinking, “I have not got that time…I want to get my bachelor’s!” Thus, she decided to look into the other college she was hearing about.

Excelsior took much of Rapple’s credits and she received her bachelor’s degree in 1986. She went on to receive her master’s degree in education with SUNY Buffalo and then worked for Empire State College as an instructional designer for its online RN to BSN program. In 2013, she joined Excelsior College as the faculty program director for health care management.

Rapple’s connection to Excelsior doesn’t stop there. Her son, Jonathan, recently received his associate degree in liberal arts from the College. Excelsior accepted the majority of the credits he earned during his previous two years at Siena College, so he only needed to complete a math class and capstone. Finishing his associate degree was a dream come true. Rapple remembers Commencement: “When he walked across the stage [to get his degree], he was walking on air.” He has told his friends about his experience with Excelsior, and he has begun pursuing his bachelor’s with the College.


Caroline Metzger, a 2017 graduate, says it was a natural decision for her to choose Excelsior College. She had watched as her older sister Katherine Metzger and brother Peter Metzger took courses at the College and had good experiences.

She had watched, too, when Peter graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Business. Caroline was already a student and had only the capstone course remaining when she viewed the webcast
of Commencement from abroad, where she was pursuing volunteer work. “I was in another country in another time zone, and I was able to watch him graduate.”

To her, that was yet another Excelsior experience that did not disappoint. The “efficiency and effectiveness” of the College made a difference for her. She benefited from the ability to determine the number of courses to take during a trimester and the ease of transition when returning to school after taking some time off to pursue a personal interest. For her and her siblings, Excelsior College provides the flexibility they’re looking for when combining school, volunteer work, and full-time jobs. “As a college, typically the focus is on the student, but it’s difficult to negotiate through particular hurdles,” says Caroline, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Business. “Excelsior is flexible.”

Word of that flexibility is passed down sibling to sibling in this family. Caroline’s younger brother John is already enrolled, and, as Caroline says, there are “two more kids to follow.”


“A number of years ago I realized that there was something missing in my life and a goal I hadn’t achieved yet. I had just gotten out of the Navy. I had served for about 9 and a half
years…and I realized that it was the fact that I had never completed a college degree.

I had started when I was younger, I joined the military, and I never finished it. However, not knowing how to go about it, I ended up enrolling in a local community college. And for those of you who have done that, it’s really difficult to balance a degree or courses while having a life and work and everything that goes along with that.

Sitting in a classroom for three-and-a-half hours, three nights a week, and trying to find time to sleep wasn’t really working for me.

I thought it wasn’t going to happen, until I met a co-worker who told me about some courses he was taking though an online college called Excelsior.”