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Evaluating Culinary Institutions
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you want to earn, and whether or not you want to enroll in a public or private institute. Since there a large number of cooking schools in the Eagle River area and within the Country, you need to develop a checklist of important qualifiers so that you can begin narrowing your choices. Certain obvious qualifications, including location and cost are a good 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 criteria, for example reputation and accreditation that you should assess also. So below are some crucial areas that you need to investigate for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your final selection.
Accreditation. It's imperative that the cooking institute you select has some form of accreditation from either a regional or a national agency. As previously stated, the accrediting organization should be a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged agency, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a detailed assessment regarding their course of study, instructors and facilities. So not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive quality training, but it may also help in securing a student loan or financial assistance which are often not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools frequently have the advantage of possessing modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been operating long enough to garner an accreditation or to establish a reputation. Conversely, more established schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a sustained track record of excellence and received one or more accreditations. Also, the much more 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 cooking schools. And older, more highly regarded schools typically modernize their equipment and facilities. The significant lesson is that in the best case scenario, your school of choice will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. Initially, find out what the graduation rates are for the cooking schools you are reviewing. Lower graduation rates are indicators that numerous students were dissatisfied with either the institutes or the programs and dropped out. They might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to furnish their job placement rates as well. If a college has a higher job placement rate, it will help confirm that it has a great or excellent reputation within the culinary community, in addition to a large network of professional connections. Be wary of any school that will not furnish this information.
Location. The cooking institute that you attend should be within commuting distance of your Eagle River home, unless you are willing to move. You may look into attending college online, but you would still need to travel for your externship program. On the other hand, maybe you have decided to enroll in a specific culinary institute located in another state because of its reputation and courses offered. It would be a wise decision to pay a visit to the facility before enrolling, to make certain that you are comfortable with the area and your potential living conditions. Inspect the training facilities in person to make sure they are up to date and that the equipment is state of the art. Consider also that a number of schools focus their job assistance programs within their regional communities, so select a location where you will satisfied working.
Class Sizes. The most effective method to learn how to cook is with a lot of one-on-one instruction. If the culinary school you enroll in has large classes, you will probably receive little individual attention from the teachers. The optimal way to evaluate the interaction and communication between faculty and students is to sit in on some of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are satisfied with the level of attention they get in class in addition to the overall training. Also, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their teaching styles are along with their histories and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a culinary college if you will not be able to attend the classes. So make sure that the school you choose has available class scheduling that will accommodate your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Eagle River AK due to your job schedule, verify 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 option. Also, check to see what the make-up policy is if you must miss a class because of family, work or other commitments.
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