Culinary Arts Colleges
How to Pick the Right One Near Flagstaff Arizona
Becoming a chef by enrolling in a culinary college near Flagstaff AZ is a wonderful career choice. You'll be able to earn a nice income doing something you love by learning to cook extraordinary dishes or prepare elegant pastries and desserts. But just how do you undertake choosing a culinary arts school once you've decided to enroll? Prior to reaching your final selection, what requirements should you research and compare among the culinary colleges you are considering? Keep in mind that you must pick the appropriate program and degree if you want to be successful in the hospitality and restaurant fields. There are a wide range of alternatives to choose from, starting with a certificate or diploma program and progressing to earning an undergraduate or even a graduate degree. You can enroll in a small culinary college, an online program, or enroll in a prestigious culinary institute that offers advanced degree programs. The type of credential and school you choose will undoubtedly be dependent upon the amount of money and time you can afford to commit, as well as your ultimate career goal. Once you have determined what your main area of interest and budget are, you can start examining the cooking colleges that satisfy your preliminary requirements. Depending upon the degree and type of culinary school you select, you can be working as a professional cook or chef in just six months. So before we dig more into the process of picking a school, let's talk a little bit more about the degree and culinary school choices that are available.
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Cooking School Degree Programs
As with numerous other professions or trades in Flagstaff AZ, there are multiple degree programs that are available in the culinary arts. At the most elemental level, you can enroll in a nearby cooking class, which are more casual in nature and can run from just a few hours to a number of weeks. Frequently a certificate or a diploma is presented at the time of completion. They may be comprehensive in nature, such as instructing how to cook Spanish meals, or they can be quite targeted and concentrate on one dish, for instance Crepes Suzette. Naturally if you are searching for a more conventional education suitable for a career in the restaurant industry, you will most likely want to enroll in a degree program. With a degree program, you will be obligated to invest considerably more time.
- Associate's Degrees can require anywhere from 6 months to two years to complete.
- Bachelor's Degrees generally involve as much as 4 years of education.
- Masters Degrees may take an additional two years or even longer after receiving a Bachelor's.
Additional advanced degree options may be offered, including specialized or Doctoral programs offered by culinary arts institutes. The most important point to keep in mind when determining which degree to strive for is making sure that it provides the education and credential needed to advance your ultimate career objectives.
When you have made your choice regarding the kind of training and degree that you wish to pursue, you can launch your search for the culinary arts school, college or institute that offers it. For example, if your desire is to train to be a chef specializing in Spanish cuisine, then naturally you will concentrate on those colleges that offer the proper training. Or you can pick a college based on its ranking or other criteria (we'll cover some of those later) and then pick the most ideal degree program offered that is compatible with your career goals in Flagstaff AZ. However you make your choice, culinary schools basically fall under three distinct categories:
- Cooking Schools. A few cooking schools do offer degree programs, but in most cases they offer certificates or diplomas. Their courses tend to be more specialized in nature, and they can range anywhere from a couple of months to as long as three or four years.
- Community Colleges. Area community colleges can often be more affordable than the majority of private schools and a large number have exceptional programs. They almost solely offer Associate's Degrees and are established and managed by either local or state governments.
- Culinary Arts Schools and Institutes. The advanced training and degrees are offered by culinary arts schools and institutes. Some institutes provide the most highly regarded as well as the highest standard of training in academia. However, since they are private institutions they often can be more expensive than their public counterparts, some much more.
Picking a culinary arts institute will not only be based on the type of degree or program you want to pursue, but also the amount of money you have to spend on your education. If you decide to attend a public institution to reduce costs, keep in mind that out-of-state residents normally have to pay a higher tuition than in-state residents. In addition, numerous community colleges and regional public schools have lower tuition fees for area residents. So don't forget to research the public options within Arizona and also within the Flagstaff AZ area to discover the most affordable options.
Cooking Online Degree Programs
Some potential students may discover that there are no culinary colleges that are within driving proximity of their Flagstaff AZ home. One solution is to attend online training within the convenience of one's home. The accessibility and flexibility makes it the best solution for some students that continue working full-time while attending college. Also there are more schools online than ever that are accredited. Keep in mind that a significant component of the instruction will be furnished through an externship. Externships are programs where students work under regional chefs or other cooking professionals to ensure that they receive hands-on training beyond the online classroom. Just make certain that the online program you decide on is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged agency (more on this later). So if you are dedicated enough to be able to go to classes and study using this more independent manner, obtaining a cooking online degree just might be the right option for you.
Comparing Cooking Schools
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you plan to earn, and if you would like to enroll in a public or private institute. Since there a large number of cooking programs in the Flagstaff area and across the United States, you need to develop a checklist of important qualifications so that you can start limiting your choices. Certain obvious qualifiers, for instance location and cost are a good place to start. But deciding on a school because it is the nearest or the least expensive is not the best way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other variables, for example reputation and accreditation that you should evaluate as well. Therefore, below are some critical areas that you need to research for each school as you compare and contrast them and make your ultimate selection.
Accreditation. It's very important that the cooking school you choose has some type of accreditation from either a regional or a national authority. As aforementioned, the accrediting organization should be a U.S. Department of Education certified authority, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a detailed review regarding their course of study, teachers and facilities. So not only does accreditation help confirm that you will receive quality training, but it can also assist in acquiring a student loan or financial assistance which are often not offered for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools generally have the benefit of having modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been operating long enough to earn an accreditation or to develop 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 received one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in operation, the more graduates the school can solicit for its job placement program. Naturally there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary arts schools. And older, more renowned schools commonly update their facilities and equipment. The valuable takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your school of choice will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. To begin with, find out what the graduation rates are for the cooking schools you are looking at. Low graduation rates are indicators that many students were dissatisfied with either the colleges or the courses and dropped out. They may also signify that the teachers were not competent to teach the course of study. Request that the schools provide their job placement rates also. If a school has a higher job placement rate, it will help validate that it has a good or excellent reputation within the culinary arts community, in addition to a large network of professional contacts. Be wary of any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The culinary institute that you enroll in must be within commuting distance of your Flagstaff residence, unless you are able to move. You may think about attending school online, but you would still need to travel for your externship program. Alternatively, perhaps you have chosen to enroll in a particular culinary college located in a different state due to its reputation and courses offered. It would be a good idea to pay a visit to the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the location and your prospective living conditions. Tour 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 many schools target their job assistance programs within their local communities, so select a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The most effective approach to learn how to cook is with plenty of one-on-one training. If the cooking school you enroll in has bigger classes, you will undoubtedly get minimal personal attention from the teachers. The ideal means to assess the interaction and communication between faculty and students is to sit in on some of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are pleased with the amount of attention they receive in class as well as the overall training. Also, speak with some of the teachers and determine what their teaching approaches are together with their experiences and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a culinary school if you will not be able to attend the classes. Therefore confirm that the school you select provides class scheduling that can accommodate your active lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on Saturdays or Sundays near Flagstaff AZ because of your job schedule, make sure that the school you select offers either night or weekend classes. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the culinary program has a part-time offering. Also, find out what the make-up policy is if you must miss a class because of family, work or other commitments.
Enroll in the Best Flagstaff Culinary School
A successful career in the hospitality and restaurant industry is predicated upon deciding on the right chef school. As we have discussed, there are various things that you must take into account when comparing schools, including their reputations, accreditation, and training facilities. Just like any career decision, you should begin by gathering information, and the most effective method to do that is by getting in touch with cooking institutes directly, either face to face or over the phone. If you're unsure regarding which schools to consider, you might want to consider asking chefs in your location about any culinary arts institutes they recommend. Afterwards use the Web to investigate those schools even more before you contact them. By taking the time to carefully evaluate each of your education options, you will find yourself in a much better position to make an enlightened decision. And when you pick the perfect school, you will have a wonderful start toward your dream of becoming a chef in Flagstaff Arizona.