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Evaluating Culinary Arts Colleges
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you want to earn, and whether or not you want to enroll in a private or a public school. Since there a large number of culinary schools in the Center Point area and within the USA, you must create a checklist of important qualifications so that you can begin limiting your choices. Certain obvious qualifications, for instance cost and location are a good place to start. But picking a school because it is the nearest or the least expensive is not the optimal way to decide on your education. There are other considerations, such as accreditation and reputation that you must evaluate as well. So below are some crucial areas that you should research for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your final decision.
Accreditation. It's important that the cooking school you choose has some type of accreditation from either a local or a national agency. As mentioned previously, the accrediting agency should be a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged agency, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a detailed review relating to their curriculum, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive excellent training, but it can also assist in obtaining a student loan or financial aid which are generally not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools often have the benefit of possessing modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been open long enough to earn an accreditation or to establish a reputation. Conversely, older schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a sustained history of success and obtained one or more accreditations.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 assistance program. Certainly there is some give and take dependent on the age of the cooking schools. And older, more reputable schools commonly modernize their equipment and facilities. The important lesson is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an outstanding reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First off, ask what the graduation rates are for the cooking programs you are assessing. Low graduation rates are red flags that many students were dissatisfied with either the colleges or the training and quit before graduating. They might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to provide their job placement rates also. If a college has a higher job placement rate, it will help verify that it has a good or excellent reputation within the cooking community, as well as a broad network of professional relationships. Be skeptical of any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The culinary arts college that you enroll in should be within driving distance of your Center Point home, unless you have decided to relocate. You may look into attending classes online, but you would still need to travel for your externship training. Conversely, perhaps you have decided to attend a particular culinary arts institute located in another state due to its reputation and courses offered. It would be a wise decision to check out the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are comfortable with the location and your prospective living conditions. Tour the training facilities personally to make sure they are up to date and that the equipment is contemporary. Remember also that some schools target their job placement programs within their regional communities, so choose a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The most effective approach to learn how to cook is with lots of one-on-one instruction. If the cooking program you enroll in has large classes, you will most likely receive limited individual attention from the teachers. The best manner in which to evaluate the interaction between instructors and students is to attend several 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 get in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and determine what their teaching styles are together with their backgrounds and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a culinary arts institute if you will not be able to attend the classes. So confirm that the school you pick provides class scheduling that will work with your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Center Point AL because of your job schedule, verify that the school you decide on offers either weekend or evening classes. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the culinary arts college has a part-time option. Also, check to see what the make-up protocol is if you have to miss a class because of family, work or other obligations.