Advantages of Earning a Specialized Degree in Sonoma County

June 20, 2019

Advantages of Earning a Specialized Degree in Sonoma County

When deciding on a college to attend, there are many factors to consider. Most prospective students make a “pros and cons” list to help make sense of such a huge decision. It can be tempting to look at a university farther away – the idea of building an exciting life outside of Sonoma County. However, staying local holds many benefits for one’s future.

There are financial advantages to already being in Sonoma County – if you are able to stay local, you can save yourself the stress of long-distance travel or dorm fees. Staying in Sonoma County also means possible qualification for local or community grants. From the Community Foundation of Sonoma County, for example, the Michael F. O’Donnell Memorial Scholarship Fund offers a $2,500 scholarship to a law student from Sonoma County.

There are more than 35 Legacy and new scholarship funds available to assist Sonoma County students who are seeking financial assistance and demonstrate the strong desire to complete higher education (e.g. community college, trade and vocational school, and four-year colleges and universities) and accomplish their educational goals. A complete list of scholarships offered to students in Sonoma County can be found here or view scholarship opportunities listed by categories here.

Another big choice is whether or not to attend a specialized school in the area. A major benefit from going to a specialized school is the short-term, career focused programs directed toward employment. A study conducted by NerdWallet of college graduates’ employment, industries and salaries from more than 240 top-rated undergraduate programs found that those who obtain technical degrees and attend specialized schools enjoy high employment rates and salaries. The study is a comprehensive analysis of more than 300,000 students from the classes of 2009 through 2011.


Key findings from this study are as follows:

  1. Graduates of specialized schools, such as engineering, nursing and business, were the most likely to find employment.
  2. Engineering and business students earned the highest starting salaries.
  3. Business students were most likely to have found employment, averaging 64%.
  4. Engineering students had the second-highest employment rate at 54%.


A specialized college such as Empire College can offer personalized, hands-on education taught by supportive and experienced instructors, with small class sizes that allow for plenty of interaction and skills practice. In addition, we offer job placement assistance, career services and mock interviewing to help students prep for a career post-graduation.

Also, an important factor to think about when deciding on schools is whether or not the college offers internships or externships. Hands-on learning is almost necessary during college nowadays, due to the incredible competition for a job after graduation. Applied learning assists in getting your foot in the door to a desired industry and career, while building rapport with professionals as a student.

Working in your field, while still in school, provides a valuable opportunity to share your skills with a prospective employer before the hiring process occurs. Also, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), new graduates who took part in an internship program are more likely to have received a job offer than those who didn’t have an internship experience.

Empire College has established relationships with employers in the area, which is a huge advantage for any student. Hundreds of employers in the North Bay rely on Empire College to assist them in finding the right match for their needs. For example, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health and Northern California Medical Associates have hired well over 100 graduates in a variety of fields including medical, accounting, information technology and office administration.

When thinking about your choice in colleges, these local benefits are important to consider. Empire College provides advantages that other universities may not be able to deliver. Our hands-on approach to learning and job placements success makes us worth considering.