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Researching Culinary Arts Programs
At this point you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you plan to attain, and if you want to enroll in a public or private college. Since there a large number of culinary arts colleges in the Alabaster area and across the Country, you will want to create a checklist of essential qualifiers so that you can begin limiting your options. A few obvious qualifications, for instance location and cost are an excellent place to begin. But deciding on a school because it is the nearest or the most affordable is not the ideal way to decide on your education. There are other considerations, for example reputation and accreditation that you should assess also. So below are some crucial areas that you will need to research for each school as you compare them and make your final selection.
Accreditation. It's important that the culinary college you select has some form of accreditation from either a local or a national authority. As previously stated, the accrediting agency should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized organization, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a detailed review relating to their course of study, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help confirm that you will receive excellent training, but it can also help in securing a student loan or financial assistance which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools frequently have the advantage of having modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been operating long enough to garner an accreditation or to cultivate a reputation. Conversely, older schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a long history of excellence and obtained one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has operated, the more alumni the school can reach out to for its job assistance program. Obviously there is some give and take based on the age of the cooking schools. And older, more reputable schools usually update their facilities and equipment. The significant takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your selected school will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First off, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary schools you are assessing. Lower graduation rates are indicators that a number of students were unhappy with either the colleges or the training and dropped out. They may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to teach the course of study. Request that the schools furnish their job placement rates also. If a school has a high job placement rate, it will help validate that it has a great or excellent reputation within the culinary arts community, in addition to a large network of professional associations. Be suspicious of any school that will not furnish this information.
Location. The cooking school that you attend should be within driving distance of your Alabaster home, unless you are able to move. You may look into attending school online, but you would still need to travel for your externship training. Conversely, perhaps you have chosen to enroll in a specific culinary arts college located in another state due to its reputation and programs offered. It would be a good idea to check out the campus before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the area and your potential living conditions. Check the training facilities in person to make sure they are up to date and that the equipment is state of the art. Remember also that some schools concentrate their job assistance programs within their regional communities, so select a location where you will satisfied working.
Class Sizes. The most effective approach to learn how to cook is with a lot of one-on-one instruction. If the culinary arts institute you enroll in has bigger classes, you will probably get minimal individual attention from the instructors. The optimal way to assess the interaction between instructors and students is to audit a few of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are happy with the level of attention they get in class as well as the overall training. Also, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their teaching approaches are along with their backgrounds and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no benefit to in enrolling in a cooking college if you will not be able to attend the classes. Therefore make certain that the school you choose offers class scheduling that will fit in with your active lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on Saturdays or Sundays near Alabaster AL because of your work schedule, check that the school you pick offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the culinary college has a part-time offering. Also, ask what the make-up policy is if you have to miss a class as a result of family, work or other commitments.