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Evaluating Culinary Programs
By now 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 a large number of culinary schools in the Princeton area and within the Country, you need to develop a checklist of important qualifications so that you can begin limiting your choices. Some obvious qualifiers, for instance cost and location are an excellent place to begin. But deciding on a school because it is the nearest or the most affordable is not the optimal way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other considerations, such as accreditation and reputation that you need to evaluate as well. Therefore, below are some key areas that you need to research for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your ultimate selection.
Accreditation. It's important that the culinary arts program you choose has some form of accreditation from either a regional or a national organization. As mentioned previously, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged authority, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a comprehensive review pertaining to their curriculum, teachers and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive excellent training, but it can also assist in obtaining a student loan or financial aid which are generally not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools frequently 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 Conversely, more established schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a lengthy history of excellence and acquired one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has operated, the more graduates the school can reach out to for its job placement program. Naturally there is some give and take based on the age of the culinary arts schools. And older, more renowned schools usually update their equipment and facilities. The significant takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an exceptional reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. To begin with, ask what the graduation rates are for the cooking programs you are examining. Lower graduation rates are indications that numerous students were dissatisfied with either the colleges or the programs and dropped out. They might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to supply their job placement rates as well. If a school has a high job placement rate, it will help validate that it has a good or outstanding reputation within the cooking community, in addition to a broad network of professional relationships. Be skeptical of any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The culinary institute that you choose should be within commuting distance of your Princeton home, unless you are willing to relocate. You may look into attending school online, but you would still have to travel for your externship program. Conversely, maybe you have chosen to enroll in a specific culinary arts school located in a different state due to its ranking and programs offered. It would be a good idea to check out the facility before enrolling, to make certain that you are satisfied with the area and your prospective living conditions. Tour the training facilities in person to make certain they are modern and that the equipment is contemporary. Consider also that a number of schools focus their job assistance programs within their regional communities, so select a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The best approach to learn how to cook is with a lot of personalized instruction. If the culinary arts college you enroll in has large classes, you will most likely get minimal personal attention from the instructors. The best way to assess the interaction between faculty and students is to audit 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 receive in class in addition to the overall training. Also, talk with a few of the teachers and determine what their teaching styles are together with their backgrounds and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a culinary arts college if you will not be able to attend the classes. So make certain that the school you choose offers class scheduling that will fit in with your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on weekends near Princeton AL because of your job schedule, verify that the school you select offers either night or weekend classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the cooking school has a part-time offering. Also, ask what the make-up protocol is if you need to miss a class as a result of work, family or other obligations.
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