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Evaluating Culinary Arts Colleges
By now you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you want to earn, and if you would like to enroll in a public or private institute. Since there are numerous culinary schools in the Oxford area and across the United States, you must develop a checklist of important qualifications so that you can start limiting your options. Certain obvious qualifications, including location and cost are an excellent place to begin. But deciding on a school because it is the nearest or the cheapest is not the ideal way to decide on your education. There are other factors, including accreditation and reputation that you should evaluate as well. So below are some critical areas that you will need to investigate for each school as you compare them and make your ultimate decision.
Accreditation. It's imperative that the culinary institute you decide on has some form of accreditation from either a regional or a national organization. As previously mentioned, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education certified authority, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a detailed evaluation pertaining to their course of study, instructors 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 accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools often have the advantage of having modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been operating 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 history of excellence and obtained one or more accreditations. Also, the much more a school has been in business, the more graduates the school can solicit for its job placement program. Obviously there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary schools. And older, more highly regarded schools commonly modernize their facilities and equipment. The valuable lesson is that in the best case scenario, your selected school will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. To begin with, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary colleges you are assessing. Lower graduation rates are red flags that numerous students were dissatisfied with either the institutes or the courses and dropped out. They can also indicate that the instructors were not competent to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to furnish their job placement rates as well. If a school has a higher job placement rate, it will help validate that it has a good or exceptional reputation within the culinary arts field, in addition to a wide network of professional associations. Be suspicious of any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The culinary arts college that you attend must be within commuting distance of your Oxford residence, unless you have decided to move. You may think about attending college online, but you would still have to travel for your externship program. Alternatively, maybe you have decided to go to a specific culinary school located in another state due to its reputation and programs offered. It would be a good idea to visit the facility before enrolling, to make certain that you are satisfied with the area and your future living conditions. Inspect the training facilities in person to make sure they are modern and that the equipment is contemporary. Keep in mind also that many schools target their job placement programs within their regional communities, so pick a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The best method 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 most likely receive limited personal attention from the teachers. The ideal way to evaluate the interaction and communication between faculty and students is to attend a few of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are pleased with the amount of attention they receive in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, talk with several of the teachers and learn what their teaching philosophies are together with their backgrounds and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a culinary arts institute if you will be unable to attend the classes. So confirm that the school you select offers class scheduling that will accommodate your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Oxford AL due to your job schedule, make certain that the school you select offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend part-time, check that the cooking institute has a part-time offering. Also, find out what the make-up protocol is if you need to miss a class due to family, work or other responsibilities.