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Comparing Culinary Schools
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you wish to attain, and if you would like to enroll in a public or private institute. Since there a large number of cooking colleges in the Dothan area and across the Country, you need to create a checklist of important qualifiers so that you can begin limiting your choices. Certain obvious qualifiers, including cost and location are an excellent place to start. But selecting a school because it is the closest or the cheapest is not the best way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other considerations, for example accreditation and reputation that you should review as well. So below are some key areas that you will need to investigate for each school as you compare them and make your final decision.
Accreditation. It's very important that the culinary program you decide on has some type of accreditation from either a regional or a national organization. As previously stated, the accrediting organization should be a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged agency, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a thorough assessment relating to their curriculum, teachers and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help ensure that you will receive exceptional training, but it may also assist in acquiring a student loan or financial assistance which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools often have the advantage of possessing modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been in operation long enough to garner an accreditation or to establish a reputation. Conversely, older schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a lengthy track record of success 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 assistance program. Obviously there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary 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 off, find out what the graduation rates are for the cooking institutes you are assessing. Lower graduation rates are indications that a number of students were dissatisfied with either the schools or the courses and dropped out. They might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to teach the curriculum. Request that the schools provide their job placement rates as well. If a college has a higher job placement rate, it will help confirm that it has a good or excellent reputation within the cooking community, in addition to a large network of professional connections. Be wary of any school that will not furnish this information.
Location. The cooking institute that you attend must be within driving distance of your Dothan home, unless you are able to relocate. You may look into attending classes online, but you would still need to travel for your externship program. On the other hand, maybe you have opted to attend a particular culinary arts college located in a different state because of its ranking and courses offered. It would be a wise decision to visit the facility before enrolling, to make certain that you are satisfied with the area and your prospective living conditions. Inspect 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 concentrate their job assistance programs within their regional communities, so select a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The most effective method to learn how to cook is with plenty of one-on-one instruction. If the culinary school you enroll in has bigger classes, you will probably receive little personal attention from the teachers. The optimal way to assess the communication and interaction between faculty and students is to audit a few of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are satisfied with the amount of attention they receive in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their teaching philosophies are as well as their histories and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a cooking program if you will not be able to attend the classes. So make certain that the school you choose offers class scheduling that will fit in with your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Dothan AL because of your work schedule, verify that the school you select offers either weekend or evening classes. If you can only attend part-time, check that the culinary program has a part-time alternative. Also, find out what the make-up policy is if you must miss a class as a result of work, family or other commitments.
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