How to Choose the Right One Near Chandler Arizona
Becoming a chef by enrolling in a culinary college near Chandler AZ is a great career choice. You will not only be taught how to create incredible dishes or make elegant desserts, you'll also be able to earn a good living doing it. However, now that you've made the decision, just how do you set about choosing a culinary college? Prior to reaching your final choice, what requirements should you research and compare among the culinary colleges you are considering? In order to be successful in the hospitality and restaurant fields you must pick the right culinary program and degree. There are a wide range of options to select from, beginning with a certificate or diploma program and advancing to attaining an undergraduate as well as a graduate degree. You may attend a small culinary college, an online program, or enroll in a large culinary institute that offers advanced degree programs. The type of degree and school you select will probably be dependent upon how much money and time you can afford to commit, as well as your ultimate career objective. After you have established what your primary area of interest and budget are, you can begin evaluating the culinary arts colleges that satisfy your preliminary qualifications. Depending upon the degree and type of culinary school you decide on, you can be working as a professional chef or cook in as little as six months. So before we delve more into the process of selecting a school, let's speak a little bit more about the degree and culinary school alternatives that are available.
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Culinary College Degree Programs
As with numerous other industries or trades in Chandler AZ, there are a variety of degree options that are offered in the culinary arts. At the most elemental level, you can join a local cooking class, which are more informal in nature and can run from a few hours to a few weeks. Typically a diploma or a certificate is provided after completion. They may be broad in nature, for example teaching how to cook Spanish dishes, or they may be quite specific and concentrate on one dish, such as Crepes Suzette. Naturally if you are searching for a more formal education geared towards a career in the restaurant profession, you will probably want to pursue a degree program. With a degree program, you will be obligated to commit considerably more time.
- Associate's Degrees can require as long as 6 months to two years to complete.
- Bachelor's Degrees generally require as much as four years of training.
- Masters Degrees may take an added two years or even longer after attaining a Bachelor's.
More advanced training alternatives may be offered, including Doctoral programs or specialized programs made available by culinary arts institutes. The most important issue to keep in mind when determining which degree to strive for is making sure that it provides the education and degree necessary to advance your ultimate career goals.
Culinary Arts Colleges
When you have made your selection regarding the type of instruction and degree that you would like to pursue, you can begin your search for the culinary arts school, college or institute that offers it. For example, if your dream is to become a chef specializing in French cuisine, then obviously you will focus on those schools that provide the proper training. Or you can pick an institute based on its ranking or other factors (we'll discuss some of those later) and then pick the most suitable degree program available that is compatible with your career goals in Chandler AZ. However you arrive at your decision, cooking schools typically fall under three different categories:
- Cooking Schools. Some cooking schools do offer degree programs, but typically they offer diplomas or certificates. Their programs tend to be more focused in nature, and they can range anywhere from a couple of months to as long as 3 or 4 years.
- Community Colleges. Area community colleges tend to be more affordable than most private colleges and many have excellent programs. They almost exclusively offer Associate's Degrees and are established and maintained by either local or state governments.
- Culinary Arts Schools and Institutes. The more advanced training and degrees are offered by culinary arts colleges and institutes. Some institutes provide the most respected and highest standard of training in academia. However, since they are private institutions they tend to be more costly than their public counterparts, some much more.
Selecting a culinary arts institute will not only be based on the type of degree or program you wish to pursue, but also how much you have to invest in your education. If you decide to enroll in a public school to reduce costs, remember that out-of-state residents usually are required to pay a higher tuition than in-state residents. Also, numerous community colleges and regional public schools have lower tuition fees for local residents. So don't forget to look into the public alternatives within Arizona and also within the Chandler AZ area to locate the most affordable options.
Online Culinary Schools
Some prospective students may find that there are no culinary institutions that are within driving distance of their Chandler AZ residence. One solution is to attend online training within the convenience of one's home. The practicality and flexibility makes it the single solution for a number of students that are still working full time while attending school. Plus there are more schools online than ever before that are accredited. Bear in mind that a substantial part of the training will be furnished under an externship. Externships are programs where students work with area chefs or other culinary professionals to ensure that they obtain hands-on training beyond the internet classroom. Just make sure that the online school you decide on is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged agency (more on this later). Therefore if you are disciplined enough to be able to attend classes and study in this more independent method, obtaining a cooking degree online just might be the ideal choice for you.
Contrasting Cooking Schools
By now you should have decided on the type of degree that you wish to attain, and if you want to enroll in a private or a public college. Since there are numerous culinary institutions in the Chandler area and across the USA, you need to create a checklist of important qualifiers so that you can start narrowing down your choices. Some obvious qualifications, for example location and cost are a good place to start. But picking a school because it is the closest or the cheapest is not the best way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other criteria, for example reputation and accreditation that you must evaluate also. So following are some critical areas that you need to research for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your final choice.
Accreditation. It's imperative that the culinary arts program you decide on has some form of accreditation from either a local or a national authority. As previously stated, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged authority, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a comprehensive assessment pertaining to their curriculum, instructors and facilities. So not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive quality training, but it can also assist in securing a student loan or financial assistance which are generally not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools frequently have the advantage of possessing modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been open long enough to earn an accreditation or to develop a reputation. On the other hand, more established schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a lengthy track record 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 placement program. Certainly there is some give and take based on the age of the cooking schools. And older, more renowned schools usually update their facilities and equipment. The important takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your school of choice will have an exceptional reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First off, find out what the graduation rates are for the cooking institutes you are examining. Low graduation rates are red flags that many students were dissatisfied with either the colleges or the training and quit before graduating. They might also signify that the instructors were not competent to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to supply their job placement rates as well. If a school has a higher job placement rate, it will help confirm that it has a great or exceptional reputation within the culinary arts field, in addition to a broad network of professional associations. Be suspicious of any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The culinary school that you choose must be within commuting distance of your Chandler home, unless you are able to move. You may look into attending college online, but you would still need to travel for your externship program. On the other hand, perhaps you have chosen to enroll in a specific culinary institute located in another state due to its prominence and programs offered. It would be a good idea to pay a visit to the facility before enrolling, to make certain that you are comfortable with the area and your prospective living conditions. Inspect the training facilities in person to make sure they are modern and that the equipment is state of the art. Keep in mind also that some schools focus their job assistance programs within their regional communities, so choose a location where you will satisfied working.
Class Sizes. The ideal approach to learn how to cook is with lots of personalized instruction. If the cooking school you enroll in has larger classes, you will probably get minimal personal attention from the instructors. The ideal manner in which to evaluate the interaction between faculty 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 level of attention they get in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, speak with several of the instructors and learn what their teaching philosophies are along with their backgrounds and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a culinary arts institute if you will not be able to attend the classes. Therefore make sure that the school you choose offers class scheduling that will work with your active lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on Saturdays or Sundays near Chandler AZ because of your work schedule, verify that the school you select offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, verify that the culinary arts school has a part-time option. Also, ask what the make-up protocol is if you have to miss a class due to work, family or other responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Chandler Culinary School
A successful career in the restaurant and hospitality profession is predicated upon selecting the appropriate cooking college. As we have covered, there are various things that you must take into account when evaluating schools, such as their accreditation, reputations, and training facilities. Just like any important decision, you must begin by gathering information, and the optimal method to accomplish that is by contacting cooking colleges directly, either face to face or by telephone. If you're uncertain about which schools to look into, you might want to think about talking to chefs in your city about any cooking institutes they recommend. Then use the Web to investigate these schools further before contacting them. By making the effort to carefully assess each of your education options, you will find yourself in a much better position to make an informed decision. And when you choose the right school, you will have a wonderful beginning toward your goal of becoming a chef in Chandler Arizona.