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Researching Culinary Institutions
By now you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you wish to earn, and if you want to enroll in a private or a public institute. Since there a large number of cooking schools in the Tuscaloosa area and within the United States, you need to develop a checklist of important qualifications so that you can begin narrowing your options. A few obvious qualifiers, for instance location and cost are an excellent place to start. But choosing a school because it is the nearest or the least expensive is not the optimal way to decide on your education. There are other considerations, for instance reputation and accreditation that you should assess as well. So below are some key areas that you need to research for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your ultimate choice.
Accreditation. It's important that the culinary school you decide on has some form of accreditation from either a regional or a national authority. As mentioned previously, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized organization, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a comprehensive evaluation pertaining to their course of study, instructors and facilities. So not only does accreditation help ascertain that you will receive excellent training, but it can also assist in acquiring 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 facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been operating long enough to garner an accreditation or to establish a reputation. On the other hand, more established schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a long history of success and obtained one or more accreditations. Also, the much more a school has been in business, the more graduates the school can reach out to for its job assistance program. Obviously there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary arts schools. And older, more renowned schools usually modernize their equipment and facilities. The significant takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your selected school will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary arts institutes you are looking at. Low graduation rates are red flags that a number of students were unhappy with either the institutes or the courses and dropped out. They might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to teach the course of study. Ask the schools to provide their job placement rates also. If a school has a higher job placement rate, it will help verify that it has a good or exceptional reputation within the culinary field, in addition to a wide network of professional relationships. Be wary of any school that will not furnish this information.
Location. The culinary school that you choose should be within driving distance of your Tuscaloosa residence, unless you can move. You may think about attending classes online, but you would still need to travel for your externship training. Alternatively, perhaps you have chosen to attend a specific culinary school located in another state due to its reputation and programs offered. It would be a wise decision to visit the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the location and your future living conditions. Check the training facilities personally to make certain they are up to date and that the equipment is contemporary. Consider also that some schools focus their job assistance programs within their regional communities, so select a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The most effective method to learn how to cook is with a lot of one-on-one instruction. If the culinary arts program you enroll in has large classes, you will undoubtedly receive limited personal attention from the instructors. The optimal means to evaluate the communication and interaction between instructors and students is to sit in on several of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are pleased with the level of attention they receive in class in addition to the overall training. Also, talk with several of the instructors and find out what their teaching styles are along with their backgrounds and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a cooking institute if you will not be able to attend the classes. So confirm that the school you pick provides class scheduling that can fit in with your active lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL due to your work schedule, make sure that the school you decide on offers either night or weekend classes. If you can only attend part-time, check that the culinary institute has a part-time alternative. Also, check to see what the make-up policy is if you have to miss a class because of family, work or other responsibilities.