Culinary Arts Schools
How to Select the Right One Near Flagstaff Arizona
Deciding to become a chef and enrolling in a culinary college near Flagstaff AZ is a great career choice. You will not only learn how to cook incredible dishes or prepare lavish desserts, you'll also be able to make a nice income doing it. However, exactly how do you set about picking a culinary college now that you've made your decision to enroll? Prior to making your ultimate selection, what criteria should you research and compare among the cooking colleges you are considering? Keep in mind that you must select the right program and degree in order to be a success in the hospitality and restaurant industry. There are a wide range of options to select from, starting with a diploma or certificate program and progressing to attaining an undergraduate as well as a graduate degree. You may enroll in a small cooking college, an online school, or enroll in a renowned culinary institute that offers more advanced degree programs. The kind of degree and school you select will no doubt be dependent upon how much time and money you can afford to invest, together with your ultimate career goal. When you have determined what your primary area of interest and budget are, you can start examining the culinary arts institutes that satisfy your preliminary requirements. Depending on the certification and type of culinary school you select, you could be working as a professional cook or chef in as little as 6 months. So before we dive more into the system of selecting a school, let's talk a little bit more about the degree and culinary school options that are available.
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Culinary College Degree Programs
Just as with many other professions or trades in Flagstaff AZ, there are several degree option programs that are available in the culinary arts. At the most basic level, you can join a local cooking course, which are more casual in nature and can last from just a few hours to a number of weeks. Often a certificate or a diploma is provided at the time of completion. They can be comprehensive in nature, such as instructing how to cook French dishes, or they can be very targeted and concentrate on one dish, for example Crepes Suzette. Naturally if you are looking for a more conventional education suitable for a career in the restaurant industry, you will probably want to enroll in a degree program. With a degree program, you will be obligated to invest significantly more time.
- Associate's Degrees can require anywhere from 6 months to two years to complete.
- Bachelor's Degrees generally call for as much as 4 years of training.
- Masters Degrees may take an additional two years or more after acquiring a Bachelor's.
More advanced training options may be offered, such as Doctoral programs or specialized programs offered by culinary arts institutes. The most important point to bear in mind when deciding on which degree to pursue is ensuring that it supplies the education and degree necessary to advance your ultimate career objectives.
After you have made your choice regarding the kind of training and degree that you want to pursue, you can launch your search for the cooking school, college or institute that offers it. For example, if your goal is to become a chef specializing in Italian cuisine, then naturally you will concentrate on those schools that provide the proper training. Or you can opt for an institute based on its reputation or other factors (we'll discuss several of those later) and then choose the best degree program offered that is consistent with your career objectives in Flagstaff AZ. However you arrive at your decision, cooking schools normally fit within three different categories:
- Cooking Schools. Certain cooking schools do offer degree programs, but in most cases they offer diplomas or certificates. Their courses tend to be more focused in nature, and they can last anywhere from 1 or 2 months to as long as three to four years.
- Community Colleges. Regional community colleges can often be more affordable than most private colleges and many have outstanding programs. They almost exclusively offer Associate's Degrees and are founded and maintained by either local or state governments.
- Culinary Arts Schools and Institutes. The more advanced training and degrees are offered by culinary colleges and institutes. Some institutes provide the most highly regarded and highest standard of training in academia. But bear in mind, since they are private institutions they tend to be more expensive than their public counterparts, some a lot more.
Picking a culinary arts school will not only be based on the type of degree or program you wish to pursue, but also the amount of money you have to invest in your education. If you decide to attend a public institution to minimize expenses, keep in mind that out-of-state residents generally are required to pay a higher tuition than in-state residents. Furthermore, numerous community colleges and regional public schools have lower tuition rates for area residents. So don't forget to research the public alternatives within Arizona and also within the Flagstaff AZ area to find the most economical options.
Online Cooking Training Programs
A number of potential students may find that there are no culinary colleges that are within driving distance of their Flagstaff AZ home. One option is to attend online training within the comfort of one's residence. The practicality and flexibility makes it the best solution for some students that continue working full-time while going to classes. Plus there are more programs online than ever before that are accredited. Bear in mind that a considerable portion of the instruction will be furnished under an externship. Externships are programs where students work under area chefs or other cooking professionals so that they receive practical training outside of the virtual classroom. Just be sure that the online school you choose is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized agency (more on this later). Therefore if you are disciplined enough to be able to attend classes and study in this more independent fashion, earning a culinary arts online degree just might be the ideal option for you.
Researching Culinary Arts Programs
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you wish to earn, and if you would like to enroll in a public or private school. Since there are numerous cooking colleges in the Flagstaff area and across the USA, you must create a checklist of essential qualifications so that you can start narrowing down your choices. A few obvious qualifications, for instance location and cost are an excellent place to begin. But deciding on a school because it is the nearest or the most affordable is not the optimal way to decide on your education. There are other factors, for example accreditation and reputation that you need to evaluate also. Therefore, below are some crucial areas that you should investigate for each school as you compare and contrast them and make your ultimate selection.
Accreditation. It's imperative that the culinary arts institute you decide on has some type of accreditation from either a local or a national authority. As previously mentioned, the accrediting agency should be a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged agency, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a comprehensive review relating to their curriculum, teachers and facilities. So not only does accreditation help ascertain that you will receive excellent training, but it may also assist in obtaining a student loan or financial assistance which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools frequently have the advantage of possessing modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been operating long enough to garner 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 success and received one or more accreditations. Also, the much more a school has been in operation, the more graduates the school can reach out to for its job placement program. Naturally there is some give and take based on the age of the culinary schools. And older, more renowned schools typically modernize their equipment and facilities. The valuable takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your school of choice will have an outstanding reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. Initially, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary arts colleges you are examining. Lower graduation rates are indicators that many students were dissatisfied with either the colleges or the programs and quit before graduating. They might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Request that the schools supply 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 excellent reputation within the culinary community, as well as a broad network of professional associations. Be skeptical of any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The cooking school that you choose must be within driving distance of your Flagstaff residence, unless you can relocate. You may consider attending classes online, but you would still need to travel for your externship training. Alternatively, perhaps you have decided to go to a particular culinary school located in another state due to its ranking 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 location and your potential living conditions. Tour the training facilities personally to make sure they are up to date and that the equipment is contemporary. Keep in mind also that many schools target their job placement programs within their regional communities, so choose a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The best approach to learn how to cook is with plenty of one-on-one instruction. If the cooking school you enroll in has bigger classes, you will most likely get little individual attention from the teachers. The best way to assess the interaction between teachers and students is to attend several of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are happy with the level of attention they get in class in addition to the overall training. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their teaching approaches are as well as their backgrounds and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a cooking program if you will be unable to attend the classes. So make sure that the school you pick has available class scheduling that can accommodate your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Flagstaff AZ due to your job schedule, make sure that the school you choose offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the culinary program has a part-time offering. Also, check to see what the make-up policy is if you need to miss a class due to work, family or other responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Flagstaff Culinary School
A rewarding career in the hospitality and restaurant industry is dependent upon picking the ideal culinary arts school. As we have addressed, there are various things that you must take into account when researching schools, including their reputations, accreditation, and training facilities. Just like any career decision, you should start by getting information, and the ideal means to accomplish that is by contacting culinary arts colleges directly, either in person or by telephone. If you're unsure regarding which schools to check out, you might want to think about talking to chefs in your city about any cooking institutes they endorse. Then use the Web to look into these schools further before contacting them. By taking the time to carefully evaluate each of your education alternatives, you will be in a better position to make an enlightened decision. And when you pick the perfect school, you will have a terrific beginning toward your aspiration of becoming a chef in Flagstaff Arizona.