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Researching Culinary Institutes
By now you should have decided on the type of degree that you plan to earn, and whether or not you would like to enroll in a public or private college. Since there are numerous culinary arts schools in the Opelika area and within the USA, you will want to create a checklist of important qualifiers so that you can begin narrowing your options. Certain obvious qualifiers, for instance location and cost are an excellent place to begin. But choosing a school because it is the nearest or the least expensive is not the best way to decide on your education. There are other considerations, for instance reputation and accreditation that you must review as well. Therefore, following are some crucial areas that you need to research for every school as you compare them and make your final choice.
Accreditation. It's imperative that the cooking institute you pick has some type of accreditation from either a local or a national organization. As previously mentioned, the accrediting organization should be a U.S. Department of Education certified authority, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a comprehensive assessment relating to their curriculum, teachers and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help ascertain that you will receive excellent training, but it can also help in acquiring a student loan or financial assistance which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools generally have the advantage of having modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been in operation long enough to earn an accreditation or to cultivate a reputation. Conversely, older schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a lengthy history of excellence and obtained one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in operation, the more graduates 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 commonly modernize their equipment and facilities. The important lesson is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an exceptional reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First, find out what the graduation rates are for the culinary arts programs you are examining. Low graduation rates are signs that many students were dissatisfied with either the schools or the courses and dropped out. They might also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Request that the schools furnish their job placement rates as well. If a school has a higher job placement rate, it will help affirm that it has a good or excellent reputation within the culinary field, in addition to a broad network of professional relationships. Be wary of any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The cooking institute that you enroll in must be within commuting distance of your Opelika home, unless you are able to relocate. You may look into attending classes online, but you would still have to travel for your externship program. Conversely, perhaps you have chosen to go to a particular culinary school located in a different state because of its reputation and courses offered. It would be a wise decision to visit the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the area and your prospective living conditions. Tour the training facilities personally to make certain they are up to date and that the equipment is contemporary. Remember also that many schools target their job placement programs within their regional communities, so select a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The most effective method to learn how to cook is with a lot of personalized training. If the cooking college you enroll in has larger classes, you will undoubtedly get little personal attention from the teachers. The best manner in which to evaluate the interaction and communication between instructors and students is to audit several of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are happy with the level of attention they receive in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their teaching styles are together with their backgrounds and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no benefit to in enrolling in a cooking college if you will be unable to attend the classes. Therefore make sure that the school you select offers class scheduling that will work with your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on Saturdays or Sundays near Opelika AL because of your work schedule, verify that the school you choose offers either night or weekend classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the culinary arts school has a part-time offering. Also, ask what the make-up protocol is if you need to miss a class because of family, work or other obligations.