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Evaluating Cooking Programs
By now you should have decided on the type of degree that you plan to attain, and whether or not you would like to enroll in a private or a public institution. Since there a large number of cooking schools in the Albertville area and within the USA, you need to create a checklist of essential qualifiers so that you can start limiting your choices. A few obvious qualifications, for example cost and location are an excellent place to begin. But deciding on a school because it is the nearest or the cheapest is not the best way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other considerations, for example accreditation and reputation that you must review also. Therefore, following are some key areas that you need to research for each school as you compare and contrast them and make your ultimate choice.
Accreditation. It's important that the culinary college you pick has some form of accreditation from either a local or a national authority. As previously stated, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education certified organization, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a comprehensive review pertaining to their course of study, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help ensure that you will receive exceptional training, but it may also help in obtaining a student loan or financial assistance which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools frequently have the advantage of possessing modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been open long enough to earn an accreditation or to cultivate a reputation. On the other hand, more established schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a sustained history of excellence and received one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has operated, the more graduates the school can reach out to for its job placement program. Certainly there is some give and take dependent on the age of the cooking schools. And older, more reputable schools commonly update their facilities and equipment. The significant takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an exceptional reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. Initially, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary institutions you are looking at. Lower graduation rates are indications that numerous students were dissatisfied with either the institutes or the programs and quit before graduating. They might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to provide their job placement rates also. If a school has a high job placement rate, it will help validate that it has a good or excellent reputation within the culinary community, in addition to a broad network of professional relationships. Be suspicious of any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The cooking institute that you enroll in should be within driving distance of your Albertville home, unless you are able to move. You may look into attending classes online, but you would still have to travel for your externship training. On the other hand, maybe you have opted to go to a specific culinary school located in another state because of its ranking and courses offered. It would be a wise decision to visit the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the area and your potential living conditions. Inspect the training facilities personally to make certain they are modern and that the equipment is state of the art. Remember also that a number of schools focus their job placement programs within their regional communities, so choose a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The most effective way to learn how to cook is with a lot of one-on-one training. If the culinary institute you enroll in has larger classes, you will undoubtedly receive minimal personal attention from the teachers. The best means to evaluate the interaction between teachers and students is to sit in on a few of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are happy with the amount of attention they get in class as well as the overall training. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their teaching styles are along with their histories and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no benefit to in enrolling in a culinary arts program if you will be unable to attend the classes. Therefore make sure that the school you choose provides class scheduling that will accommodate your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on Saturdays or Sundays near Albertville AL because of your job schedule, confirm that the school you decide on offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the culinary arts program has a part-time offering. Also, find out what the make-up policy is if you have to miss a class due to family, work or other obligations.