How to Find the Right One Near Athens Alabama
Becoming a chef by enrolling in a culinary school near Athens AL is a wonderful career choice. You'll be able to make a good income doing something you love by learning to create extraordinary dishes or make lavish desserts and pastries. But now that you've decided, exactly how do you set about choosing a culinary arts school? Prior to making your ultimate selection, what qualifications should you review and compare among the culinary colleges you are considering? Bear in mind that you must choose the right program and degree if you want to be a success in the hospitality and restaurant fields. There are a multitude of options to choose from, starting with a diploma or certificate program and advancing to earning an undergraduate or even a graduate degree. You can attend a small cooking college, an online college, or enroll in a large culinary institute that provides advanced degree programs. The type of credential and school you choose will probably be dependent upon how much money and time you can afford to commit, in addition to your ultimate career goal. After you have decided what your main area of interest and budget are, you can begin examining the culinary arts colleges that meet your preliminary requirements. Depending upon the degree and type of culinary school you select, you can be employed as a professional cook or chef in just 6 months. So before we delve more into the process of picking a school, let's speak a little bit more about the degree and culinary school alternatives that are available.
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Culinary Arts Institute Degree Options
As with a number of other professions or trades in Athens AL, there are several degree option programs that are available in the culinary arts. At the most elemental level, you can enroll in a nearby cooking class, which are more informal in nature and can run from just a few hours to a number of weeks. Frequently a certificate or a diploma is offered after completion. They can be broad in nature, for instance instructing how to cook Italian meals, or they can be very specific and concentrate on one dish, for instance Crepes Suzette. Naturally if you are searching for a more formal education applicable for a career in the restaurant industry, you will undoubtedly want to pursue a degree program. With a degree program, you will be obligated to invest significantly more time.
- Associate's Degrees can require anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to finish.
- Bachelor's Degrees generally entail as much as four years of education.
- Masters Degrees can take an added two years or even longer after attaining a Bachelor's.
Additional advanced training alternatives may be available, such as specialized or Doctoral programs offered by culinary arts institutes. Probably the most important point to keep in mind when determining which degree to pursue is making sure that it provides the education and credential needed to advance your ultimate career goals.
Once you have made your choice regarding the kind of training and degree that you want to pursue, you can start your search for the culinary school, college or institute that offers it. For example, if your desire is to become a chef specializing in German cuisine, then obviously you will concentrate on those colleges that offer the proper training. Or you can pick a college based on its ranking or other factors (we'll cover several of those later) and then select the most suitable degree program available that is compatible with your career objectives in Athens AL. However you arrive at your decision, culinary arts schools basically fall under 3 distinct categories:
- Cooking Schools. Some cooking schools do offer degree programs, but usually they offer diplomas or certificates. Their programs tend to be more focused in nature, and they can range anywhere from 1 or 2 months to as long as three to four years.
- Community Colleges. Regional community colleges tend to be more economical than the majority of private schools and a large number have excellent programs. They almost solely offer Associate's Degrees and are established and managed by either state or local governments.
- Culinary Schools and Institutes. The advanced degrees and training are provided by culinary schools and institutes. Some institutes provide the most highly regarded as well as the highest level of training in academia. Unfortunately, since they are private schools they often can be more costly than their public counterparts, some much more.
Choosing a culinary school will not only be based on the type of degree or program you want to pursue, but also the amount of money you have to spend on your education. If you decide to enroll in a public school to minimize costs, keep in mind that out-of-state residents normally are required to pay a higher tuition than in-state residents. In addition, a lot of community colleges and regional public schools have lower tuition rates for local residents. So make sure to explore the public options within Alabama and also within the Athens AL area to locate the most affordable options.
Culinary Online Schools
A number of prospective students may discover that there are no culinary institutes that are within travelling distance of their Athens AL residence. One option is to enroll in online training within the convenience of one's home. The practicality and flexibility makes it the one solution for many students that continue working full time while attending school. In addition there are more schools online than ever that are accredited. Remember that a considerable part of the training will be furnished under an externship. Externships are programs where students work under local chefs or other culinary arts professionals to ensure that they receive practical training beyond the online classroom. Just make certain that the online school you decide on is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized organization (more on this later). So if you are disciplined enough to be able to go to classes and study using this more independent fashion, obtaining a culinary arts online degree might be the ideal option for you.
Contrasting Cooking Colleges
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you want to earn, and whether or not you would like to enroll in a private or a public school. Since there a large number of culinary arts programs in the Athens area and within the United States, you will want to develop a checklist of essential qualifiers so that you can begin narrowing your options. A few obvious qualifiers, for example location and cost are a good place to start. But selecting a school because it is the closest or the least expensive is not the optimal way to decide on your education. There are other factors, such as accreditation and reputation that you must review as well. Therefore, following are some critical areas that you will need to investigate for each school as you compare and contrast them and make your final selection.
Accreditation. It's very important that the cooking college you choose has some type of accreditation from either a local or a national authority. As aforementioned, the accrediting agency should be a U.S. Department of Education certified organization, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a comprehensive evaluation pertaining to their course of study, teachers and facilities. So not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive exceptional training, but it may also assist in obtaining a student loan or financial assistance which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools often have the benefit of possessing modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been in operation long enough to acquire an accreditation or to cultivate a reputation. On the other hand, older schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a sustained track record of excellence and earned one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in operation, the more alumni the school can reach out to for its job placement program. Naturally there is some give and take based on the age of the culinary schools. And older, more renowned schools commonly update their equipment and facilities. The valuable lesson is that in the best case scenario, your school of choice will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. To begin with, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary arts institutions you are reviewing. Lower graduation rates are red flags that many students were unhappy with either the schools or the programs and quit before graduating. They may also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to furnish their job placement rates as well. If a college has a high job placement rate, it will help confirm that it has a great or exceptional reputation within the cooking field, as well as a large network of professional associations. Watch out for any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The culinary institute that you attend must be within commuting distance of your Athens home, unless you have decided to relocate. You may think about attending college online, but you would still need to travel for your externship training. On the other hand, maybe you have chosen to go to a particular culinary school located in another state because of its prominence 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 prospective living conditions. Tour the training facilities in person to make certain they are up to date and that the equipment is state of the art. Keep in mind also that a number of schools target their job assistance programs within their regional communities, so select a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The best method to learn how to cook is with a lot of one-on-one instruction. If the culinary program you enroll in has bigger classes, you will probably get limited individual attention from the teachers. The best way to evaluate the interaction between faculty and students is to audit a few of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are happy with the level of attention they receive in class in addition to the entire course of training. Also, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their teaching styles are together with their histories and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a cooking college if you will not be able to attend the classes. So make certain that the school you choose has available class scheduling that will work with your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on Saturdays or Sundays near Athens AL because of your work schedule, verify that the school you choose offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the culinary arts program has a part-time offering. Also, check to see what the make-up protocol is if you have to miss a class because of family, work or other commitments.
Find the Right Athens Cooking School
A successful career in the restaurant and hospitality business is predicated upon enrolling in the appropriate culinary program. As we have covered, there are a number of things that you must take into consideration when researching schools, for example their accreditation, reputations, and training facilities. Just like any career decision, you must start by gathering information, and the ideal way to do that is by contacting cooking schools directly, either face to face or by telephone. If you're unsure about which schools to explore, you might need to think about asking chefs in your area about any culinary institutes they recommend. Later use the Internet to investigate those schools even more before contacting them. By making the effort to carefully assess each of your education alternatives, you will find yourself in a more ideal position to make an enlightened decision. And when you pick the ideal school, you will have a great start toward your goal of becoming a chef in Athens Alabama.