Excelsior College Launches Social Networking Initiatives

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Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, leveraged for outreach

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It's important that we meet students where they are and hear their concerns, questions and interests

Excelsior College, a nonprofit leader in distance education for working adults, has boosted its online profile by leveraging the social networking opportunities on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Excelsior is engaging distance learners in general, as well as Hispanics, veterans and military personnel, and alumni.

Established in 1971, Excelsior is one of the nation's oldest distance learning institutions, with respected degree and certificate programs in nursing, liberal arts, business, technology, and health sciences. Social networking is a natural progression in Excelsior's long-standing mission to increase access to higher education for working adults.

The College has more than 32,000 enrolled students and 126,000 alumni in the U.S and around the world. One-third of Excelsior students are military personnel, and one-third are students from demographic groups historically underrepresented in higher education.

"It's important that we meet students where they are and hear their concerns, questions and interests," said Executive Director of Marketing Tracy Solarek. "In today's economy, education is more important than ever and we're trying to relay that message to our student community, prospective students and alumni as well. Social networking is an excellent strategy for a nonprofit education institution where financial resources are invested heavily in education rather than advertising."

Excelsior uses Facebook to facilitate discussions among students and prospective students, and to post event photos, such as those from Commencement ceremonies held in Albany, N.Y. On Twitter, Excelsior posts recent news, events and daily quotes. LinkedIn allows the Excelsior College group to interact and learn more about the College. On YouTube and its Education Channel, Excelsior posts recent videos, the most popular of which, "Latino Leaders," features two recent graduates' testimonials about their Excelsior experience. By late summer, the MySpace site will allow Excelsior to highlight the most popular programs within the college.

"We recognize that these sites are being embraced by our community of students and we want to be right there for them," says Solarek.

On Facebook, Excelsior has developed specific pages for Hispanic students, veterans and military students and alumni.

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Ellen Lahr
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