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Contrasting Culinary Colleges
By now you should have decided on the type of degree that you plan to attain, and if you would like to enroll in a private or a public college. Since there are numerous cooking colleges in the Decatur area and across the USA, you will want to develop a checklist of important qualifications so that you can begin narrowing down your options. Certain obvious qualifications, including cost and location are an excellent place to begin. But selecting a school because it is the closest or the least expensive is not the ideal way to decide on your education. There are other factors, including accreditation and reputation that you must assess as well. Therefore, following are some key areas that you must investigate for each school as you compare them and make your final selection.
Accreditation. It's important that the culinary school you select has some type of accreditation from either a local or a national organization. As mentioned previously, the accrediting agency should be a U.S. Department of Education certified organization, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a thorough assessment pertaining to their course of study, teachers and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive quality training, but it may also help in securing a student loan or financial aid which are often not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools often have the benefit of having modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been operating long enough to acquire an accreditation or to develop a reputation. On the other hand, more established schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a sustained track record of excellence and received one or more accreditations. Also, the much more a school has operated, the more graduates the school can solicit for its job assistance program. Obviously there is some give and take based on the age of the cooking schools. And older, more renowned schools commonly modernize their equipment and facilities. The valuable lesson 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. First, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary programs you are reviewing. Low graduation rates are red flags that a number of students were dissatisfied with either the colleges or the programs and quit before graduating. They may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to supply their job placement rates as well. If a school has a higher job placement rate, it will help confirm that it has a great or outstanding reputation within the culinary arts field, in addition to a broad network of professional connections. Be suspicious of any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The cooking institute that you choose should be within driving distance of your Decatur residence, unless you can relocate. You may consider attending school online, but you would still have to travel for your externship training. Alternatively, maybe you have chosen to attend a specific culinary school located in another state because of its ranking and courses offered. It would be a wise decision to pay a visit to the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are comfortable with the area and your potential living conditions. Look over the training facilities personally to make sure they are modern and that the equipment is contemporary. Keep in mind also that many schools target their job placement programs within their local communities, so select a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The most effective approach to learn how to cook is with plenty of one-on-one training. If the cooking school you enroll in has larger classes, you will probably receive little individual attention from the teachers. The optimal means to assess 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. Ascertain if they are satisfied with the level of attention they receive in class as well as the overall training. Also, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their teaching styles are together with their experiences and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a culinary college if you will not be able to attend the classes. Therefore confirm that the school you pick has available class scheduling that can fit in with your active lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on weekends near Decatur AL due to your job schedule, verify that the school you choose offers either night or weekend classes. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the culinary institute has a part-time alternative. Also, check to see what the make-up policy is if you must miss a class because of family, work or other commitments.