Chef Degree Programs
How to Pick the Right One Near Fairbanks Alaska
You have made a wonderful career choice to become a cook or chef by enrolling in a culinary college near Fairbanks AK. You'll be able to earn a nice income doing something you love by learning to create spectacular dishes or prepare fancy pastries and desserts. But now that you've made the decision, exactly how do you go about selecting a culinary college? Prior to arriving at your ultimate selection, what requirements should you research and compare among the cooking colleges you are considering? In order to be a success in the hospitality and restaurant fields you must select the ideal culinary program and degree. There are a multitude of alternatives to pick from, starting with a diploma or certificate program and progressing to attaining an undergraduate or even a graduate degree. You may enroll in a small culinary college, an online program, or enroll in a large culinary institute that provides more advanced degrees. The kind of credential and school you select will undoubtedly be based upon how much money and time you can afford to spend, as well as your ultimate career objective. When you have established what your main area of interest and budget are, you can begin examining the culinary arts institutes that meet your initial qualifications. Depending upon the degree and type of culinary school you select, you may be working as a professional cook or chef in as little as six months. So before we delve more into the system of selecting a school, let's speak a little more about the degree and culinary school options that are available.
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Culinary Arts Schools
When you have made your choice regarding the kind of training and degree that you would like to pursue, you can launch your search for the cooking school, college or institute that offers it. For example, if your dream is to train to be a chef specializing in Spanish cuisine, then of course you will focus on those colleges that furnish the proper training. Or you can choose an institute based on its reputation or other criteria (we'll review several of those later) and then select the most suitable degree program offered that is simpatico with your career objectives in Fairbanks AK. However you make your choice, culinary schools typically fit within 3 distinct categories:
- Cooking Schools. Some cooking schools do offer degree programs, but usually they offer certificates or diplomas. Their courses tend to be more focused in nature, and they can range anywhere from one or two months to as long as three or four years.
- Community Colleges. Regional community colleges can often be more economical than most private colleges and a large number have excellent programs. They almost solely offer Associate's Degrees and are founded and managed by either local or state governments.
- Culinary Arts Schools and Institutes. The advanced training and degrees are furnished by culinary arts schools and institutes. Several institutes provide the most highly regarded and highest standard of training in academia. But bear in mind, since they are private schools they often can be more costly than their public counterparts, some a lot more.
Selecting a culinary college will not only be dependent on the type of program or degree you want to pursue, but also the amount of money you have to invest in your education. If you decide to attend a public institution to reduce expenses, keep in mind that out-of-state residents normally must pay a higher tuition than in-state residents. Furthermore, numerous community colleges and regional public schools have lower tuition charges for local residents. So make sure to look into the public alternatives within Alaska and also within the Fairbanks AK area to locate the most economical options.
Online Culinary Programs
Some prospective students may find that there are no culinary arts colleges that are within commuting proximity of their Fairbanks AK home. One solution is to enroll in online classes within the comfort of one's residence. The accessibility and flexibility makes it the best solution for many students that are still working full time while going to classes. Also there are more programs online than ever before that are accredited. Bear in mind that a substantial part of the instruction will be provided under an externship. Externships are programs where students work under regional chefs or other culinary arts practitioners to ensure that they receive practical training outside of the online classroom. Just make certain that the online program you enroll in is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved organization (more on this later). So if you are dedicated enough to be able to go to classes and study in this more independent manner, earning a culinary online degree just might be the right option for you.
Comparing Cooking Colleges
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you wish to earn, and whether or not you would like to enroll in a private or a public college. Since there a large number of cooking colleges in the Fairbanks area and across the Country, you must develop a checklist of essential qualifications so that you can start narrowing down your options. Some obvious qualifications, for instance location and cost are a good place to start. But deciding on a school because it is the nearest or the least expensive is not the optimal way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other factors, including accreditation and reputation that you should evaluate as well. So following are some crucial areas that you will need to investigate for each school as you compare and contrast them and make your ultimate choice.
Accreditation. It's important that the cooking college you choose has some type of accreditation from either a local or a national organization. As aforementioned, the accrediting authority 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 curriculum, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive excellent training, but it may also assist in securing a student loan or financial aid which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools generally have the advantage of having modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been open long enough to acquire 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 sustained history of excellence and acquired 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. Obviously there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary arts schools. And older, more highly regarded schools commonly update their facilities and equipment. The significant takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your school of choice will have an exceptional reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. To begin with, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary arts institutions you are looking at. Lower graduation rates are indications that a number of students were dissatisfied with either the colleges or the courses and dropped out. They can also signify that the teachers were not competent to teach the course of study. Request that the schools provide their job placement rates also. If a college has a high job placement rate, it will help validate that it has a good or exceptional reputation within the cooking community, in addition to a wide network of professional connections. Be suspicious of any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The cooking school that you attend should be within driving distance of your Fairbanks home, unless you can move. You may consider attending classes online, but you would still need to travel for your externship program. Alternatively, perhaps you have opted to enroll in a specific culinary school located in another state due to its reputation and courses offered. It would be a wise decision to check out the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are comfortable with the area and your future living conditions. Check the training facilities in person to make certain they are up to date and that the equipment is contemporary. Consider also that a number of schools focus their job assistance programs within their regional communities, so select a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The ideal approach to learn how to cook is with plenty of personalized training. If the culinary arts school you enroll in has larger classes, you will probably receive limited personal attention from the teachers. The best means to assess the interaction and communication between teachers and students is to attend some of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are satisfied with the amount of attention they receive in class as well as the overall training. Also, talk with several of the instructors and find out what their teaching styles are along with their histories and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a culinary school if you will be unable to attend the classes. So make sure that the school you select has available class scheduling that will work with your active lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on Saturdays or Sundays near Fairbanks AK due to 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 culinary college 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 obligations.
Enroll in the Right Fairbanks Cooking School
A successful career in the hospitality and restaurant profession is dependent upon choosing the right culinary arts college. As we have covered, there are several things that you must take into consideration when comparing schools, for example their reputations, accreditation, and training facilities. Just like any life changing decision, you must start by collecting information, and the most effective method to accomplish that is by contacting culinary arts schools directly, either face to face or by telephone. If you're unsure regarding which schools to look into, you might want to consider consulting with chefs in your city about any cooking colleges they recommend. Later go on the Internet to check out those schools even more before you contact them. By taking the time to exhaustively evaluate each of your education options, you will be in a more ideal position to make an informed decision. And when you choose the perfect school, you will have a terrific beginning toward your dream of becoming a chef in Fairbanks Alaska.