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Comparing Cooking Programs
By now you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you want to earn, and whether or not you would like to enroll in a private or a public institution. Since there a large number of cooking programs in the Prattville area and across the United States, you will want to develop a checklist of important qualifications so that you can begin narrowing your choices. Certain obvious qualifiers, for example cost and location are an excellent place to begin. But choosing a school because it is the closest or the cheapest is not the best way to decide on your education. There are other criteria, such as accreditation and reputation that you should assess as well. So following are some crucial areas that you need to research for each school as you compare them and make your final choice.
Accreditation. It's essential that the culinary arts school you pick has some form of accreditation from either a regional or a national authority. As previously stated, the accrediting organization should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized organization, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a detailed assessment pertaining to their curriculum, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help ensure that you will receive excellent training, but it may also assist in securing a student loan or financial aid which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools often 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 Conversely, older schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a long track record of excellence and acquired one or more accreditations. Also, the much more a school has operated, the more alumni the school can solicit for its job placement program. Naturally there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary arts schools. And older, more renowned schools commonly modernize their facilities and equipment. The significant takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your school of choice will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First, find out what the graduation rates are for the culinary colleges you are reviewing. Lower graduation rates are red flags that a number of students were unhappy with either the institutes or the programs and dropped out. They might also signify that the instructors were not competent to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to furnish their job placement rates also. If a college has a high job placement rate, it will help affirm that it has a good or exceptional reputation within the cooking field, as well as a wide network of professional associations. Be suspicious of any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The cooking institute that you attend must be within commuting distance of your Prattville residence, unless you are able to relocate. You may consider attending classes online, but you would still have to travel for your externship program. Alternatively, maybe you have opted to enroll in a particular culinary arts school located in a different state because of its reputation and programs offered. It would be a wise decision to visit the campus before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied 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. Remember also that a number of schools target their job placement programs within their regional communities, so pick a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The most effective method to learn how to cook is with plenty of one-on-one training. If the culinary college you enroll in has large classes, you will probably receive minimal individual attention from the instructors. The ideal means to assess the interaction between instructors and students is to sit in on a few of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are pleased with the level of attention they get in class in addition to the overall training. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their teaching approaches are along with their histories and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a culinary school if you will be unable to attend the classes. So confirm that the school you decide on has available class scheduling that can work with your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Prattville AL because of your work schedule, make sure that the school you decide on offers either weekend or evening classes. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the cooking institute has a part-time offering. Also, check to see what the make-up protocol is if you must miss a class as a result of work, family or other commitments.