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Evaluating Cooking Schools
By now you should have decided on the type of degree that you wish to attain, and if you want to enroll in a public or private school. Since there a large number of cooking programs in the Fairhope area and within the United States, you must develop a checklist of essential qualifiers so that you can begin limiting your options. Certain obvious qualifications, for example cost and location are a good place to start. But deciding on a school because it is the nearest or the cheapest is not the best way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other criteria, for example accreditation and reputation that you should assess also. Therefore, following are some crucial areas that you will need to investigate for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your ultimate selection.
Accreditation. It's essential that the cooking college you choose has some form 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 example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a thorough evaluation pertaining to their curriculum, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help confirm that you will receive quality training, but it can also help in securing a student loan or financial aid which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools often have the benefit of having 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, dated equipment, but have established a sustained track record of excellence and earned 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. Naturally there is some give and take based on the age of the cooking schools. And older, more highly regarded schools usually modernize their facilities and equipment. The valuable takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your school of choice will have an outstanding reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. To begin with, ask what the graduation rates are for the cooking schools you are reviewing. Low graduation rates are indicators that numerous students were dissatisfied with either the institutes or the courses and quit before graduating. They can also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to teach the course of study. Ask the schools to provide 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, in addition to a wide network of professional relationships. Watch out for any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The cooking college that you enroll in should be within driving distance of your Fairhope residence, unless you have decided to relocate. You may look into attending school online, but you would still have to travel for your externship program. Alternatively, maybe you have chosen to enroll in a particular culinary arts college located in a different state due to its prominence and courses offered. It would be a wise decision to visit the campus before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the area and your future living conditions. Look over the training facilities in person to make certain they are modern and that the equipment is contemporary. Remember also that some schools focus their job assistance programs within their regional communities, so select a location where you will satisfied working.
Class Sizes. The ideal way to learn how to cook is with a lot of one-on-one instruction. If the cooking program you enroll in has larger classes, you will most likely receive little individual attention from the teachers. The optimal means to assess the communication and interaction between faculty and students is to sit in on a few of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are happy with the amount of attention they get in class in addition to the entire course of training. Also, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their teaching philosophies are along with their histories and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a culinary program if you will not be able to attend the classes. So make certain that the school you pick provides class scheduling that will work with your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Fairhope AL because of your work schedule, verify that the school you decide on offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the cooking institute has a part-time offering. Also, ask what the make-up policy is if you must miss a class as a result of family, work or other commitments.
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