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Contrasting Culinary Colleges
By now you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you wish to earn, and whether or not you would like to enroll in a private or a public college. Since there a large number of cooking institutions in the Northport area and across the Country, you will want to develop a checklist of essential qualifications so that you can begin narrowing down your options. Some obvious qualifiers, such as location and cost are a good place to begin. But choosing a school because it is the closest or the least expensive is not the ideal way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other variables, for example accreditation and reputation that you need to evaluate as well. So following are some crucial areas that you must investigate for each school as you compare and contrast them and make your final decision.
Accreditation. It's essential that the culinary arts college you select has some form of accreditation from either a regional or a national agency. As mentioned previously, the accrediting organization should be a U.S. Department of Education certified agency, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a thorough assessment regarding their curriculum, teachers and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help ascertain that you will receive excellent training, but it may also assist in obtaining a student loan or financial aid which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools often have the advantage of possessing modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been in operation long enough to acquire an accreditation or to establish a reputation. Conversely, more established schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a sustained history of excellence and acquired one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has operated, the more graduates the school can reach out to for its job placement program. Certainly 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 important lesson is that in the best case scenario, your selected school will have an outstanding reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. To begin with, ask what the graduation rates are for the cooking programs you are examining. Lower graduation rates are indicators that many students were unhappy with either the colleges or the courses and quit before graduating. They might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Request that the schools supply their job placement rates as well. If a college has a higher job placement rate, it will help confirm that it has a great or exceptional reputation within the cooking community, as well as a broad network of professional contacts. Be wary of any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The culinary arts school that you attend should be within driving distance of your Northport residence, unless you have decided to relocate. You may consider attending school online, but you would still have to travel for your externship training. Alternatively, maybe you have decided to go to a specific culinary college located in another state because of its prominence and programs offered. It would be a wise decision to pay a visit to the campus before enrolling, to make sure that you are comfortable with the area and your potential living conditions. Check the training facilities personally to make sure they are modern and that the equipment is state of the art. Consider also that some schools concentrate their job placement programs within their local communities, so choose a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The best way to learn how to cook is with lots of personalized instruction. If the culinary school you enroll in has larger classes, you will undoubtedly get limited individual attention from the instructors. The ideal manner in which to assess the communication and interaction between faculty and students is to attend several of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are satisfied with the level of attention they get in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, talk with several of the teachers and determine what their teaching approaches are together with their histories and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a cooking college if you will not be able to attend the classes. So make sure that the school you choose offers class scheduling that will fit in with your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Northport AL due to your job schedule, make certain that the school you pick offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the culinary program has a part-time alternative. Also, ask what the make-up policy is if you have to miss a class because of family, work or other obligations.