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Researching Culinary Institutes
By now you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you wish to attain, and if you want to enroll in a private or a public school. Since there a large number of culinary institutions in the Chandler area and within the United States, you must create a checklist of essential qualifiers so that you can begin limiting your options. Some obvious qualifiers, including location and cost are a good place to begin. But deciding on a school because it is the nearest or the most affordable is not the best way to decide on your education. There are other variables, for instance accreditation and reputation that you must assess also. So following are some key areas that you will need to investigate for each school as you compare them and make your final decision.
Accreditation. It's imperative that the cooking school you pick has some form of accreditation from either a local or a national agency. As mentioned previously, the accrediting organization should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized authority, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a thorough assessment pertaining 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 help in securing a student loan or financial assistance which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools often have the advantage of having modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been in operation long enough to earn an accreditation or to develop a reputation. Conversely, more established schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a sustained track record of success and obtained one or more accreditations. Also, the much more a school has been in business, the more graduates 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 renowned schools usually modernize their facilities and equipment. The important lesson is that in the best case scenario, your school of choice will have an outstanding reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First, find out what the graduation rates are for the cooking colleges you are evaluating. Lower graduation rates are signs that a number of students were dissatisfied with either the institutes or the courses and dropped out. They can also indicate that the teachers were not competent to teach the curriculum. Request that the schools provide their job placement rates as well. If a school has a high job placement rate, it will help validate that it has a great or outstanding reputation within the cooking field, in addition to a broad network of professional contacts. Watch out for any school that will not furnish this information.
Location. The culinary arts institute that you choose must be within commuting distance of your Chandler home, unless you can move. You may think about attending college online, but you would still need to travel for your externship program. On the other hand, perhaps you have decided to attend a specific culinary school located in another state due to its reputation and programs offered. It would be a good idea to check out the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are comfortable with the area and your future living conditions. Look over 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 concentrate their job placement programs within their local communities, so choose a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The ideal method to learn how to cook is with plenty of one-on-one instruction. If the culinary arts institute you enroll in has larger classes, you will undoubtedly get little personal attention from the teachers. The ideal way to assess the interaction between instructors and students is to sit in on a few of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are happy with the amount of attention they get in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, talk with several of the teachers and learn what their teaching styles are along with their backgrounds and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no benefit to in enrolling in a culinary arts institute if you will be unable to attend the classes. Therefore make certain that the school you select offers class scheduling that will fit in with your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on weekends near Chandler AZ due to your job schedule, make certain that the school you select offers either weekend or evening classes. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the culinary institute has a part-time option. Also, find out what the make-up protocol is if you need to miss a class as a result of family, work or other commitments.