Culinary Arts Schools
How to Pick the Right One Near Flagstaff Arizona
Deciding to become a chef and enrolling in a culinary institute near Flagstaff AZ is a great career choice. Not only will you be taught how to cook extraordinary meals or make fancy desserts, you'll also be able to earn a nice living doing it. However, now that you've made the decision, exactly how do you set about selecting a culinary college? Prior to reaching your final choice, what criteria should you research and compare among the cooking institutes you are considering? Remember that you must choose the appropriate program and degree if you want to be successful in the restaurant and hospitality business. There are a wide range of options to pick from, starting with a diploma or certificate program and advancing to attaining an undergraduate or even a graduate degree. You may enroll in a small cooking college, an online training class, or enroll in a prestigious culinary institute that offers more advanced degrees. The kind of credential and school you select will no doubt be based on the amount of money and time you can afford to commit, in addition to your ultimate career objective. After you have decided what your main area of interest and budget are, you can start assessing the cooking schools that satisfy your preliminary qualifications. Depending upon the degree and type of culinary school you decide on, you could be employed as a professional chef or cook in just 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 choices that are available.
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Culinary Arts Schools
After you have made your decision regarding the kind of training and degree that you want to pursue, you can launch your search for the culinary arts school, college or institute that offers it. As an example, if your desire is to become a chef specializing in French cuisine, then of course you will focus on those schools that offer the proper training. Or you can pick a college based on its ranking or other factors (we'll discuss some of those later) and then select the most ideal degree program available that is consistent with your career objectives in Flagstaff AZ. However you arrive at your decision, cooking schools basically fall under 3 different 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. Local community colleges tend to be more affordable than most private schools and a large number have exceptional programs. They almost exclusively offer Associate's Degrees and are established and maintained by either local or state governments.
- Culinary Schools and Institutes. The more advanced degrees and training are provided by culinary schools and institutes. Some institutes provide the most highly regarded 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.
Choosing a culinary arts school will not only be dependent on the type of program or degree you want to pursue, but also how much you have to invest in your education. If you decide to attend a public school to minimize costs, keep in mind that out-of-state residents normally have to pay a higher tuition than in-state residents. Furthermore, many community colleges and regional public schools have lower tuition charges for local residents. So be sure to research the public alternatives within Arizona and also within the Flagstaff AZ area to discover the most economical options.
Culinary Online Classes
Many potential students may find that there are no culinary arts schools that are within travelling proximity of their Flagstaff AZ home. One alternative is to attend online training within the comfort of one's residence. The convenience and flexibility makes it the only solution for many students that are still working full time while attending college. In addition there are more programs online than ever before that are accredited. Keep in mind that a significant portion of the training will be provided through an externship. Externships are programs where students work under local chefs or other culinary arts professionals to ensure that they obtain hands-on training beyond the virtual classroom. Just make sure that the online program you enroll in is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged organization (more on this later). So if you are dedicated enough to be able to attend classes and study in this more independent manner, attaining a culinary arts degree online may be the right choice for you.
Evaluating Culinary Institutes
By now you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you plan to attain, and if you want to enroll in a private or a public institution. Since there a large number of cooking programs in the Flagstaff area and within the United States, you must develop a checklist of essential qualifiers so that you can begin limiting your options. A few obvious qualifications, for example location and cost are an excellent place to start. But deciding on a school because it is the closest or the least expensive is not the optimal way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other considerations, including accreditation and reputation that you should review also. Therefore, following are some key areas that you should investigate for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your ultimate choice.
Accreditation. It's important that the cooking college you decide on has some type of accreditation from either a local or a national authority. As aforementioned, the accrediting agency should be a U.S. Department of Education certified agency, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a comprehensive review relating to their course of study, teachers and facilities. So not only does accreditation help ensure that you will receive excellent training, but it may also help in obtaining a student loan or financial assistance which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools generally have the advantage of having modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been open long enough to earn an accreditation or to establish a reputation. On the other hand, more established schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a sustained history of success and received one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in operation, the more alumni the school can reach out to for its job placement program. Certainly there is some give and take based on the age of the cooking schools. And older, more highly regarded schools usually update their facilities and equipment. The significant takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your selected school will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First, find out what the graduation rates are for the culinary institutions you are assessing. Lower graduation rates are signs that numerous students were dissatisfied with either the schools or the courses and dropped out. They may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to teach the course of study. Request that the schools provide their job placement rates as well. If a school has a high job placement rate, it will help verify that it has a good or exceptional reputation within the cooking community, in addition to a wide network of professional connections. Watch out for any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The culinary arts institute that you enroll in must be within driving distance of your Flagstaff home, unless you have decided to relocate. You may consider attending school online, but you would still have to travel for your externship training. Conversely, perhaps you have chosen to go to a specific culinary arts school located in a different state because of its reputation and courses offered. It would be a good idea to pay a visit to the campus before enrolling, to make certain that you are satisfied with the location and your potential living conditions. Inspect the training facilities personally to make certain they are modern and that the equipment is contemporary. Consider also that a number of schools concentrate their job assistance programs within their regional communities, so pick a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The most effective way to learn how to cook is with a lot of one-on-one training. If the culinary school you enroll in has large classes, you will probably receive little individual attention from the teachers. The best manner in which to evaluate the interaction between faculty 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 in addition to the overall training. Also, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their teaching styles are together with their histories and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a culinary institute if you will be unable to attend the classes. Therefore 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 weekends near Flagstaff AZ due to your job schedule, check that the school you decide on offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the cooking institute has a part-time offering. Also, check to see what the make-up policy is if you must miss a class due to work, family or other responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Flagstaff Cooking School
A rewarding career in the restaurant and hospitality industry is contingent upon deciding on the ideal cooking program. As we have discussed, there are a number of things that you must take into account when researching schools, for instance their reputations, accreditation, and training facilities. Just like any important decision, you need to begin by gathering information, and the best way to accomplish that is by getting in touch with culinary arts schools directly, either face to face or by telephone. If you're unsure regarding which schools to consider, you may want to consider talking to chefs in your area about any culinary arts schools they recommend. Later go on the Web to explore those schools further before contacting them. By taking the time to thoroughly assess each of your education alternatives, you will be in a better position to make an educated decision. And when you choose the right school, you will have a terrific start toward your aspiration of becoming a chef in Flagstaff Arizona.