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Contrasting Cooking Schools
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you want to earn, and whether or not you would like to enroll in a public or private school. Since there a large number of culinary institutions in the Selma area and across the Country, you need to create a checklist of important qualifications so that you can begin narrowing your options. Some obvious qualifiers, for instance cost and location are an excellent place to start. But picking a school because it is the closest or the cheapest is not the optimal way to decide on your education. There are other criteria, such as reputation and accreditation that you should evaluate as well. So below are some crucial areas that you need to research for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your final selection.
Accreditation. It's very important that the culinary arts program you choose has some form of accreditation from either a local or a national agency. As mentioned previously, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized agency, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a thorough review relating to their curriculum, teachers and facilities. So not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive quality training, but it can also assist in securing a student loan or financial assistance which are often 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 open long enough to acquire an accreditation or to develop a reputation. On the other hand, older schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a sustained track record of excellence and obtained one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in business, the more graduates the school can reach out to for its job placement program. Naturally there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary arts schools. And older, more reputable schools usually update their facilities and equipment. The valuable lesson is that in the best case scenario, your selected school will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. To begin with, find out what the graduation rates are for the culinary arts colleges you are looking at. Low graduation rates are signs that many students were dissatisfied with either the schools or the courses and quit before graduating. They can also signify that the teachers were not competent to teach the course of study. Request that the schools furnish their job placement rates as well. If a school has a high job placement rate, it will help verify that it has a good or outstanding reputation within the culinary field, as well as a wide network of professional contacts. Be suspicious of any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The culinary college that you attend should be within commuting distance of your Selma home, unless you are able to move. You may look into attending classes online, but you would still need to travel for your externship training. Conversely, perhaps you have opted to enroll in a particular culinary institute located in a different state due to its prominence and courses offered. It would be a good idea to visit the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are comfortable with the area and your prospective living conditions. Inspect the training facilities personally to make certain they are up to date and that the equipment is contemporary. Keep in mind also that some schools concentrate their job assistance programs within their local communities, so select a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The ideal approach to learn how to cook is with lots of personalized training. If the culinary arts college you enroll in has large classes, you will most likely get minimal personal attention from the instructors. The optimal means to assess the communication and interaction between teachers and students is to attend a few of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are pleased with the amount of attention they receive in class as well as the overall training. Also, speak with a couple of the teachers and find out what their teaching philosophies are together with their backgrounds and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a culinary arts program if you will be unable to attend the classes. Therefore make sure that the school you decide on provides class scheduling that can fit in with your active lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Selma AL because of your job schedule, make certain that the school you choose offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend part-time, check that the cooking program has a part-time offering. Also, find out what the make-up policy is if you need to miss a class due to work, family or other commitments.
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