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Evaluating Culinary Arts Programs
By now you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you want to earn, and whether or not you would like to enroll in a public or private school. Since there a large number of culinary institutions in the El Mirage area and within the United States, you will want to develop a checklist of essential qualifications so that you can start narrowing your options. Some obvious qualifiers, for instance location and cost are a good place to start. But choosing 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 evaluate as well. So following are some crucial areas that you need to research for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your final selection.
Accreditation. It's very important that the culinary arts program you pick has some type of accreditation from either a local or a national authority. As mentioned previously, the accrediting organization should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized organization, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a detailed review regarding their curriculum, teachers and facilities. So not only does accreditation help ensure that you will receive quality training, but it can also assist in securing a student loan or financial aid which are generally not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools generally have the benefit of having modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been in operation long enough to acquire an accreditation or to establish a reputation. On the other hand, older schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a lengthy history of excellence and earned one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in operation, 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 typically update their equipment and facilities. The valuable takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an outstanding reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. To begin with, find out what the graduation rates are for the culinary arts colleges you are reviewing. Lower graduation rates are signs that a number of students were dissatisfied with either the colleges or the programs and dropped out. They might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Request that the schools supply their job placement rates as well. If a college has a higher job placement rate, it will help validate that it has a great or excellent reputation within the cooking community, in addition to a large network of professional connections. Be suspicious of any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The culinary college that you choose must be within driving distance of your El Mirage residence, unless you are able to move. You may look into attending classes online, but you would still have to travel for your externship training. Conversely, maybe you have decided to enroll in a specific culinary arts college located in another state because of its prominence and programs offered. It would be a wise decision to pay a visit to the facility before enrolling, to make certain that you are satisfied with the location and your prospective living conditions. Inspect the training facilities in person to make certain they are up to date and that the equipment is contemporary. Keep in mind also that a number of schools target their job placement programs within their local communities, so select a location where you will satisfied working.
Class Sizes. The best approach to learn how to cook is with plenty of personalized training. If the culinary school you enroll in has bigger classes, you will probably receive little individual attention from the teachers. The ideal means to evaluate the interaction and communication between teachers and students is to sit in on a few of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are happy with the amount of attention they get in class as well as the overall training. Also, talk with several of the teachers and determine what their teaching styles are together with their histories and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a culinary institute if you will be unable to attend the classes. So make certain that the school you choose offers class scheduling that can accommodate your active lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on weekends near El Mirage AZ because of your work schedule, confirm that the school you decide on offers either night or weekend classes. If you can only attend part-time, check that the cooking institute has a part-time alternative. Also, find out what the make-up policy is if you need to miss a class because of work, family or other commitments.