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Contrasting Culinary Institutions
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you want to earn, and if you would like to enroll in a private or a public institution. Since there are numerous culinary arts colleges in the Pelham area and within the Country, you need to create a checklist of essential qualifiers so that you can start narrowing your choices. Some obvious qualifiers, for instance cost and location are a good place to begin. But selecting a school because it is the nearest or the cheapest is not the optimal way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other criteria, for instance accreditation and reputation that you need to assess also. Therefore, following are some crucial areas that you should research for each school as you compare and contrast them and make your ultimate decision.
Accreditation. It's essential that the culinary arts school you pick has some form of accreditation from either a local or a national authority. As mentioned previously, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized organization, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a detailed assessment pertaining to their course of study, teachers and facilities. So not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive excellent training, but it can also assist in acquiring a student loan or financial aid which are generally not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools often have the benefit of having modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been in operation long enough to earn an accreditation or to establish a reputation. On the other hand, older schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a long history of success and acquired one or more accreditations.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. Naturally there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary schools. And older, more renowned schools typically update their equipment and facilities. The valuable takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an outstanding reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First, ask what the graduation rates are for the cooking colleges you are examining. Lower graduation rates are red flags that many students were unhappy with either the institutes or the programs and quit before graduating. They can also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to supply their job placement rates also. If a school has a higher job placement rate, it will help verify that it has a good or excellent reputation within the culinary community, as well as a broad network of professional contacts. Be skeptical of any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The cooking college that you attend should be within driving distance of your Pelham home, unless you are able to relocate. You may look into attending classes online, but you would still need to travel for your externship training. Alternatively, maybe you have decided to enroll in a specific culinary arts school located in a different state because of its ranking and courses offered. It would be a good idea to check out the facility before enrolling, to make certain that you are comfortable with the location and your potential living conditions. Tour the training facilities in person to make sure they are modern and that the equipment is contemporary. Consider also that some schools target their job assistance programs within their regional communities, so select a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The most effective way to learn how to cook is with plenty of one-on-one training. If the cooking college you enroll in has bigger classes, you will most likely receive little personal attention from the teachers. The best manner in which to assess the communication and interaction between faculty and students is to attend some of the classes. Ask a couple 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 overall training. Also, talk with several of the teachers and find out what their teaching approaches are as well as their histories 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 pick has available class scheduling that can fit in with your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Pelham AL because of your job schedule, check 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 institute has a part-time alternative. Also, ask what the make-up policy is if you have to miss a class as a result of work, family or other responsibilities.