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Researching Cooking Institutes
At this point you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you want to attain, and whether or not you would like to enroll in a public or private institute. Since there a large number of culinary arts colleges in the Phenix City area and across the Country, you must develop a checklist of essential qualifications so that you can begin narrowing down your choices. A few obvious qualifications, including location and cost are an excellent place to begin. But selecting 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 reputation and accreditation that you must review as well. So following are some key areas that you need to investigate for every school as you compare them and make your final selection.
Accreditation. It's very important that the culinary arts school you select has some form of accreditation from either a regional or a national authority. As previously stated, the accrediting agency should be a U.S. Department of Education certified authority, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a thorough evaluation pertaining to their course of study, teachers and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive exceptional training, but it may also help in obtaining a student loan or financial aid which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools often have the advantage of possessing modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been operating long enough to acquire an accreditation or to establish a reputation. On the other hand, more established schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a sustained track record of success and obtained one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has operated, 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 highly regarded schools typically modernize their equipment and facilities. The significant takeaway 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. Initially, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary arts schools you are reviewing. Lower graduation rates are indications that many students were unhappy with either the schools or the programs and quit before graduating. They may also indicate 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 high job placement rate, it will help validate that it has a great or excellent reputation within the culinary community, in addition to a broad network of professional relationships. Be skeptical of any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The cooking college that you enroll in should be within commuting distance of your Phenix City home, unless you have decided to move. You may think about attending college online, but you would still need to travel for your externship training. On the other hand, maybe you have chosen to attend a specific culinary school located in a different state due to its reputation and programs offered. It would be a wise decision to check out the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the area and your prospective living conditions. Tour the training facilities in person to make sure they are modern and that the equipment is contemporary. Consider also that many schools focus their job placement programs within their local communities, so pick a location where you will satisfied working.
Class Sizes. The best way to learn how to cook is with lots of one-on-one instruction. If the culinary arts institute you enroll in has large classes, you will undoubtedly get limited individual attention from the teachers. The ideal means to evaluate the interaction between instructors and students is to attend several of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are pleased with the amount of attention they receive in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their teaching philosophies are along with their histories and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a cooking school if you will be unable to attend the classes. Therefore make certain that the school you select has available class scheduling that will work with your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on Saturdays or Sundays near Phenix City AL due to your job 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 cooking school has a part-time alternative. Also, find out what the make-up protocol is if you must miss a class because of family, work or other responsibilities.
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