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Researching Culinary Arts Institutes
At this point you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you wish to attain, and if you want to enroll in a private or a public school. Since there are numerous cooking colleges in the Mountain Brook area and within the Country, you need to develop a checklist of important qualifications so that you can start narrowing down your options. Some obvious qualifications, such as location and cost are an excellent place to begin. But choosing a school because it is the nearest or the cheapest is not the ideal way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other factors, for instance accreditation and reputation that you should assess as well. So following are some key areas that you must investigate for every school as you compare them and make your final decision.
Accreditation. It's essential that the culinary institute you choose has some form of accreditation from either a regional or a national authority. As aforementioned, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized organization, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a comprehensive evaluation 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 assist in securing a student loan or financial aid which are generally not offered for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools generally have the advantage of having modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been open long enough to garner an accreditation or to establish a reputation. On the other hand, older schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a lengthy history of success and acquired one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in operation, the more alumni the school can solicit for its job placement program. Certainly there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary schools. And older, more reputable schools typically update their facilities and equipment. The important lesson 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. Initially, find out what the graduation rates are for the culinary programs you are looking at. Low graduation rates are red flags that numerous students were dissatisfied with either the schools or the training and quit before graduating. They may also indicate that the teachers were not competent to teach the curriculum. Request that the schools supply their job placement rates also. If a college has a higher job placement rate, it will help affirm that it has a good or excellent reputation within the culinary arts field, in addition to a large network of professional relationships. Be wary of any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The culinary institute that you attend must be within commuting distance of your Mountain Brook home, unless you are able to move. You may look into attending college online, but you would still have to travel for your externship program. On the other hand, perhaps you have decided to go to a particular culinary arts college located in a different state because of its prominence and programs offered. It would be a wise decision to check out the campus before enrolling, to make certain that you are satisfied with the location and your prospective living conditions. Look over the training facilities in person to make sure 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 placement programs within their regional communities, so pick a location where you will satisfied working.
Class Sizes. The most effective way to learn how to cook is with lots of one-on-one training. If the cooking college you enroll in has large classes, you will probably get limited individual attention from the teachers. The ideal way to evaluate the interaction between faculty and students is to sit in on some 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 get in class in addition to the entire course of training. Also, speak with some of the instructors and determine what their teaching styles are as well as their experiences and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a culinary arts school if you will not be able to attend the classes. Therefore confirm that the school you choose offers class scheduling that will work with your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on Saturdays or Sundays near Mountain Brook AL because of your work schedule, make sure that the school you select offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the culinary arts institute has a part-time offering. Also, check to see what the make-up protocol is if you must miss a class because of work, family or other commitments.