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Researching Cooking Institutions
By now you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you plan to attain, and if you would like to enroll in a private or a public institution. Since there a large number of culinary arts colleges in the Anniston area and within the Country, you must create a checklist of essential qualifiers so that you can begin narrowing down your options. Certain obvious qualifiers, including location and cost are an excellent place to begin. But selecting a school because it is the nearest or the least expensive is not the best way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other variables, for example reputation and accreditation that you need to assess also. So below are some critical areas that you need to investigate for each school as you compare them and make your final selection.
Accreditation. It's imperative that the culinary school you select has some type of accreditation from either a regional or a national agency. As aforementioned, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized agency, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a comprehensive evaluation pertaining to their course of study, teachers and facilities. So not only does accreditation help ascertain that you will receive quality training, but it can also assist in acquiring a student loan or financial aid which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools generally have the benefit of having modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been operating long enough to earn an accreditation or to develop a reputation. On the other hand, older schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a lengthy history of success and acquired one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in operation, 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 renowned schools usually modernize their facilities and equipment. The valuable lesson is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an outstanding reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First, find out what the graduation rates are for the culinary colleges you are reviewing. Low graduation rates are indications that many students were unhappy with either the colleges or the programs and quit before graduating. They might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to teach the course of study. Request that the schools furnish their job placement rates as well. If a college has a high job placement rate, it will help verify that it has a good or outstanding reputation within the cooking community, as well as a large network of professional relationships. Be skeptical of any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The culinary arts institute that you attend must be within driving distance of your Anniston home, unless you are willing to relocate. You may look into attending classes online, but you would still have to travel for your externship training. Alternatively, maybe you have chosen to attend a particular culinary arts institute located in another state because of its prominence and programs offered. It would be a good idea to pay a visit to the campus before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the location and your potential living conditions. Check the training facilities in person to make certain they are up to date and that the equipment is state of the art. Consider also that many schools focus their job assistance programs within their local communities, so pick a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The best way to learn how to cook is with a lot of personalized training. If the culinary program you enroll in has larger classes, you will probably get limited individual attention from the instructors. The best means to evaluate the communication and interaction between faculty and students is to attend a few of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are pleased with the level of attention they receive in class in addition to the overall training. Also, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their teaching philosophies are together with their backgrounds and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a culinary school if you will be unable to attend the classes. Therefore make certain that the school you choose offers class scheduling that can accommodate your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Anniston AL due to your work schedule, make certain that the school you pick offers either weekend or evening classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the culinary arts school has a part-time option. Also, find out what the make-up protocol is if you have to miss a class as a result of family, work or other commitments.