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Evaluating Culinary Arts Colleges
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you plan to earn, and whether or not you want to enroll in a private or a public college. Since there are numerous culinary colleges in the Prichard area and within the USA, you must create a checklist of important qualifications so that you can begin narrowing down your options. A few obvious qualifications, such as cost and location are a good place to start. But picking a school because it is the closest or the least expensive is not the optimal way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other variables, for instance reputation and accreditation that you must review also. Therefore, below are some key areas that you should research for each school as you compare them and make your ultimate selection.
Accreditation. It's essential that the culinary program you choose has some type of accreditation from either a regional or a national agency. As aforementioned, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged agency, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a comprehensive evaluation relating to their course of study, teachers and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help ensure that you will receive quality training, but it may also assist in securing a student loan or financial aid which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools often have the benefit of possessing modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been in operation long enough to acquire an accreditation or to establish a reputation. Conversely, more established schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a long track record of excellence and acquired one or more accreditations.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 been in business, the more graduates the school can solicit for its job assistance program. Naturally there is some give and take based on the age of the culinary arts schools. And older, more renowned schools typically update their equipment and facilities. 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. First off, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary programs you are assessing. Low graduation rates are indications that numerous students were dissatisfied with either the colleges or the courses and quit before graduating. They may also signify that the teachers were not competent to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to provide their job placement rates as well. If a college has a high job placement rate, it will help verify that it has a great or exceptional reputation within the culinary community, as well as a wide network of professional relationships. Be suspicious of any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The culinary college that you attend must be within commuting distance of your Prichard residence, unless you can relocate. You may consider attending college online, but you would still need to travel for your externship program. On the other hand, perhaps you have decided to enroll in a specific culinary institute located in a different state due to its prominence and courses offered. It would be a good idea to pay a visit to the facility before enrolling, to make certain that you are comfortable with the area and your future living conditions. Tour the training facilities in person to make certain they are modern and that the equipment is contemporary. Remember also that many schools concentrate their job assistance programs within their local communities, so pick a location where you will satisfied working.
Class Sizes. The ideal method to learn how to cook is with plenty of personalized instruction. If the cooking institute you enroll in has bigger classes, you will probably receive little individual attention from the teachers. The ideal way to evaluate the interaction and communication between faculty and students is to audit some of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are satisfied with the level of attention they receive in class in addition to the entire course of training. Also, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their teaching approaches are as well as their experiences and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a culinary arts college if you will be unable to attend the classes. So make sure that the school you select has available class scheduling that can work with your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Prichard AL due to your job schedule, confirm that the school you choose offers either weekend or evening classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the cooking school has a part-time offering. Also, check to see what the make-up policy is if you need to miss a class due to family, work or other commitments.