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Comparing Culinary Institutions
By now you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you wish to attain, and whether or not you want to enroll in a private or a public school. Since there are numerous cooking institutions in the Buckeye area and across the Country, you will want to develop a checklist of important qualifications so that you can begin limiting your options. Some obvious qualifiers, for example location and cost are a good place to begin. But selecting a school because it is the closest or the cheapest is not the optimal way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other considerations, including accreditation and reputation that you should assess as well. So following are some critical areas that you need to research for every school as you compare them and make your ultimate choice.
Accreditation. It's essential that the cooking program you pick has some form of accreditation from either a local or a national organization. As aforementioned, the accrediting agency should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized authority, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a detailed review relating to their curriculum, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help confirm that you will receive quality training, but it may also help in acquiring a student loan or financial assistance which are generally not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established 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 Conversely, older schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a lengthy history of success and acquired one or more accreditations.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 based on the age of the cooking schools. And older, more reputable schools typically modernize their equipment and facilities. 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. First off, find out what the graduation rates are for the culinary programs you are reviewing. Lower graduation rates are indicators that many students were dissatisfied with either the schools or the training and dropped out. They might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to provide their job placement rates as well. If a college has a high job placement rate, it will help validate that it has a good or outstanding reputation within the cooking field, in addition to a wide network of professional connections. Be suspicious of any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The cooking institute that you enroll in should be within commuting distance of your Buckeye home, unless you are willing to relocate. You may look into attending school online, but you would still need to travel for your externship program. Alternatively, perhaps you have decided to attend a particular culinary arts college located in a different state because of its reputation and programs offered. It would be a good idea to pay a visit to the campus before enrolling, to make sure that you are comfortable with the area and your potential living conditions. Inspect the training facilities in person to make certain they are modern and that the equipment is contemporary. Consider also that a number of schools target their job placement programs within their regional communities, so select a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The best approach to learn how to cook is with lots of personalized training. If the cooking institute you enroll in has bigger classes, you will undoubtedly receive limited personal attention from the instructors. The best means to evaluate the interaction and communication between faculty and students is to sit in on several of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are happy with the amount of attention they receive in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, speak with several of the instructors and find out what their teaching philosophies are along with their backgrounds and qualifications.
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 can fit in with your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on Saturdays or Sundays near Buckeye AZ because of your job schedule, confirm that the school you select offers either weekend or evening classes. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the cooking college has a part-time alternative. Also, find out what the make-up protocol is if you have to miss a class due to work, family or other commitments.