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Researching Culinary Institutions
At this point you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you wish to attain, and if you would like to enroll in a private or a public school. Since there are numerous cooking schools in the Troy area and across the USA, you will want to develop a checklist of important qualifications so that you can start narrowing your choices. Some obvious qualifiers, such as location and cost are an excellent place to begin. But deciding on a school because it is the closest or the least expensive is not the ideal way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other variables, such as reputation and accreditation that you need to assess also. So following are some key areas that you must research for each school as you compare them and make your final selection.
Accreditation. It's essential that the cooking college you pick has some type of accreditation from either a local or a national authority. As aforementioned, the accrediting organization should be a U.S. Department of Education certified organization, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a comprehensive assessment regarding their curriculum, teachers and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help ascertain that you will receive excellent training, but it can also assist in obtaining a student loan or financial assistance which are generally not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools frequently have the benefit of having modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been open long enough to earn an accreditation or to develop a reputation. Conversely, older schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a lengthy track record of excellence and obtained one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in business, the more alumni the school can solicit for its job assistance program. Certainly there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary arts schools. And older, more highly regarded schools usually update their facilities and equipment. The important lesson is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an outstanding reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. Initially, find out what the graduation rates are for the culinary arts colleges you are evaluating. Low graduation rates are indicators that many students were unhappy with either the colleges or the courses and quit before graduating. They might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to supply their job placement rates also. If a school has a higher job placement rate, it will help confirm that it has a good or outstanding reputation within the culinary community, in addition to a wide network of professional associations. Watch out for any school that will not furnish this information.
Location. The culinary arts institute that you choose should be within driving distance of your Troy residence, unless you have decided to relocate. You may look into attending classes online, but you would still have to travel for your externship training. Alternatively, perhaps you have decided to go to a specific culinary school located in another state because of its ranking and programs offered. It would be a good idea to pay a visit to the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the location and your prospective living conditions. Look over the training facilities in person to make sure they are modern and that the equipment is contemporary. Consider also that many schools target their job placement programs within their regional communities, so pick a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The best way to learn how to cook is with a lot of one-on-one instruction. If the cooking school you enroll in has large classes, you will undoubtedly receive minimal individual attention from the instructors. The ideal means to assess the communication and interaction between instructors and students is to audit some of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are pleased with the level of attention they get in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, speak with a couple of the instructors and learn what their teaching philosophies are as well as their histories and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no benefit to in enrolling in a culinary college if you will be unable to attend the classes. Therefore make sure that the school you decide on provides class scheduling that will work with your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on weekends near Troy AL because of your work schedule, make certain that the school you decide on offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the cooking program has a part-time alternative. Also, find out what the make-up policy is if you need to miss a class because of family, work or other responsibilities.