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Comparing Culinary Arts Colleges
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you want to earn, and if you would like to enroll in a public or private institute. Since there a large number of cooking institutions in the Anchorage area and across the USA, you must create a checklist of essential qualifications so that you can start narrowing your options. Certain obvious qualifications, including cost and location are a good place to begin. But selecting 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 considerations, such as reputation and accreditation that you need to review as well. So below are some key areas that you will need to investigate for each school as you compare and contrast them and make your final choice.
Accreditation. It's very important that the cooking program you pick has some form of accreditation from either a local or a national authority. As previously stated, the accrediting organization should be a U.S. Department of Education certified organization, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a detailed review relating to their course of study, teachers and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help ascertain that you will receive excellent training, but it may also assist in obtaining a student loan or financial aid which are often not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools generally have the advantage of possessing modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been operating long enough to garner an accreditation or to cultivate a reputation. On the other hand, older schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a lengthy track record of excellence and earned one or more accreditations. Also, the much more a school has been in operation, the more graduates the school can solicit for its job placement program. Obviously there is some give and take based on the age of the cooking schools. And older, more reputable schools typically update their equipment and facilities. The significant 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. Initially, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary schools you are examining. Low graduation rates are signs that a number of students were unhappy with either the colleges or the programs and quit before graduating. They might also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Request that the schools supply their job placement rates also. If a college has a high job placement rate, it will help affirm that it has a good or excellent reputation within the culinary arts field, in addition to a broad network of professional associations. Be wary of any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The cooking college that you choose must be within commuting distance of your Anchorage residence, unless you are willing to move. You may consider attending college online, but you would still have to travel for your externship training. Conversely, perhaps you have chosen to enroll in a particular culinary school located in another state due to its prominence and programs offered. It would be a wise decision to check out the campus before enrolling, to make sure that you are comfortable with the location and your prospective living conditions. Tour the training facilities in person to make sure they are modern and that the equipment is contemporary. Remember also that many schools concentrate their job placement programs within their regional communities, so pick a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The most effective approach to learn how to cook is with plenty of personalized training. If the cooking college you enroll in has large classes, you will undoubtedly get minimal individual attention from the teachers. The best manner in which to evaluate the interaction and communication between instructors and students is to audit a few of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are pleased with the amount of attention they receive in class as well as the overall training. Also, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their teaching philosophies are along with their experiences and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a cooking institute if you will not be able to attend the classes. So make certain that the school you select has available class scheduling that will fit in with your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on Saturdays or Sundays near Anchorage AK due to your job schedule, confirm that the school you decide on offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend part-time, verify that the culinary institute has a part-time alternative. Also, find out what the make-up policy is if you have to miss a class due to family, work or other responsibilities.