Excelsior Program

We live in an era of unprecedented educational choice and flexibility; there is no longer a singular high school path that one must follow to graduation. The Excelsior Program is designed to support students who have consciously chosen to embark on a non-traditional path to high school and to life. Excelsior is a cohort-based, experiential leadership program, designed to support students socially and academically as they navigate the transitions between high school, Running Start, and into post-secondary education, training, and life experiences.


  • Running Start Advisors typically spend on average 15 minutes of advising for each student per quarter.
  • Running Start students are often ready to leave high school but unprepared for the lack of structure, community, and personalized accountability in the college setting.
  • College credit is great on a high school transcript, but so are non-traditional service and leadership experiences.
  • Young adults benefit from “real world” challenges and personal adult relationships.

Leadership Expeditions

Over the course of the year, Excelsior students participate in three separate week-long field expeditions. These expeditions are designed to build skills,  cultivate a group culture and identity amongst students that will persist through their academic year, and develop a deeper connection with their Explorations Advisor. The fall and spring expeditions take place in wilderness settings and the winter retreat is an urban expedition that involves meeting with local and regional leaders in business, politics, and the nonprofit sector.  Field expeditions are situated between community college quarters and do not interfere with Running Start academic courses.

Community Impact Service Learning

Excelsior students participate in a leadership course at Exploration Academy called Community Impact. This class is offered on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and focuses on skills to succeed in college and in life while making a meaningful impact in the community.  Early in the year students work with their advisor to identify a community need and then design a year-long service initiative to address this issue. This project is facilitated by the advisor but is fundamentally organized and completed by students. It is an opportunity for students to apply their creativity, entrepreneurship, and initiative as they make a clear and meaningful impact in their community and the world.

Personal Advising

While Excelsior students have access to a Running Start counselor/advisor via the public school and college, their Explorations Advisor is also their Community Impact teacher and leads the leadership expeditions. Consequently, this advisor regularly spends time in class and in the field with each student.  This personal relationship naturally leads to a unique, comprehensive, and independent advising perspective. Advisors work with Excelsior students as they enroll in college courses, select from other Explorations Academy courses, design independent studies, and internships, and make decisions for post-secondary education.

Fall Orientation Backpacking Trip:  September 11-15

Winter Leadership Retreat: December 11-15

Spring Culminating Expedition: June 18-22

Students participating in the Excelsior Program must be enrolled at a public high school, their local community college, and Explorations Academy. Enrolled students receive .5 Leadership credits per semester.


$5,000 for the 2017-2018 Academic Year
*Individual and group tutoring, enrollment in other Explorations Academy courses, and for-credit independent study are available for an additional fee.