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Contrasting Culinary Arts Colleges
By now you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you wish to attain, and whether or not you would like to enroll in a public or private college. Since there are numerous culinary institutions in the Athens area and across the United States, you need to develop a checklist of essential qualifiers so that you can start limiting your choices. Certain obvious qualifications, for instance location and cost are a good place to begin. But deciding on a school because it is the closest or the least expensive is not the ideal way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other criteria, including reputation and accreditation that you must assess also. Therefore, below are some crucial areas that you should research for each school as you compare and contrast them and make your ultimate decision.
Accreditation. It's imperative that the cooking college you select has some type of accreditation from either a regional or a national agency. As previously mentioned, the accrediting agency should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized organization, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a detailed assessment regarding their curriculum, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive quality training, but it can also help in securing a student loan or financial aid which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools generally have the advantage of possessing modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been open long enough to garner an accreditation or to develop a reputation. On the other hand, older schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a long history of excellence and obtained one or more accreditations.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 much more a school has been in business, the more alumni the school can reach out to for its job placement program. Naturally there is some give and take dependent on the age of the cooking schools. And older, more renowned schools typically modernize their facilities and equipment. The significant takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary schools you are examining. Lower graduation rates are signs that many students were unhappy with either the colleges or the programs and dropped out. They might also signify that the teachers were not competent to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to 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 exceptional reputation within the culinary arts field, as well as a broad network of professional connections. Be skeptical of any school that will not furnish this information.
Location. The culinary arts school that you enroll in must be within driving distance of your Athens home, unless you are able to relocate. You may look into attending college online, but you would still need to travel for your externship program. Alternatively, maybe you have decided to go to a specific culinary institute located in another state because of its reputation and courses offered. It would be a good idea to check out the campus before enrolling, to make certain that you are satisfied with the location and your prospective living conditions. Inspect the training facilities in person to make certain they are modern and that the equipment is contemporary. Consider also that many schools concentrate their job placement programs within their local communities, so select a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The best way to learn how to cook is with lots of personalized instruction. If the culinary college you enroll in has large classes, you will most likely receive minimal personal attention from the teachers. The best manner in which to evaluate the communication and interaction between faculty and students is to sit in on some of the classes. Ask a couple 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 entire course of training. Also, talk with several of the instructors and find out what their teaching philosophies are along with their histories and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no benefit to in enrolling in a culinary arts school if you will not be able to attend the classes. So make certain that the school you select provides class scheduling that will fit in with your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Athens AL due to your work schedule, check that the school you decide on offers either weekend or evening classes. If you can only attend part-time, check that the culinary institute has a part-time offering. Also, ask what the make-up policy is if you need to miss a class due to work, family or other responsibilities.