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Comparing Culinary Institutes
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you plan to attain, and whether or not you would like to enroll in a private or a public school. Since there a large number of culinary programs in the Flagstaff area and across the USA, you need to develop a checklist of important qualifiers so that you can begin narrowing your choices. A few obvious qualifiers, for example cost and location are an excellent place to start. But picking a school because it is the nearest or the most affordable is not the optimal way to decide on your education. There are other variables, including accreditation and reputation that you must assess as well. Therefore, below are some crucial areas that you 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 regional or a national organization. As previously stated, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized agency, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a detailed assessment pertaining to their curriculum, teachers and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive quality training, but it can also assist in obtaining a student loan or financial aid which are generally not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools frequently have the benefit of having modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been in operation long enough to garner 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 On the other hand, older schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a sustained track record of success and obtained one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has operated, the more alumni the school can reach out to for its job placement program. Obviously there is some give and take based on the age of the culinary schools. And older, more highly regarded schools commonly update their equipment and facilities. The important lesson is that in the best case scenario, your selected school will have an outstanding reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First, ask what the graduation rates are for the cooking schools you are assessing. Lower graduation rates are signs that numerous students were unhappy with either the schools or the training and dropped out. They might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to teach the course of study. Ask the schools to supply their job placement rates as well. If a school has a higher job placement rate, it will help verify that it has a good or excellent reputation within the culinary field, as well as a large network of professional connections. Be suspicious of any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The culinary arts institute that you enroll in must be within commuting distance of your Flagstaff home, unless you are able to relocate. You may consider attending college online, but you would still need to travel for your externship training. On the other hand, maybe you have chosen to go to a particular culinary school located in a different state due to its reputation and programs offered. It would be a wise decision to visit the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the location and your potential living conditions. Check the training facilities in person to make certain they are modern and that the equipment is state of the art. Keep in mind also that a number of schools concentrate their job placement programs within their regional communities, so pick a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The best method to learn how to cook is with plenty of one-on-one training. If the culinary institute you enroll in has bigger classes, you will most likely get limited individual attention from the instructors. The best manner in which to evaluate the interaction between instructors and students is to audit some of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are pleased with the amount of attention they get in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and determine what their teaching approaches are along with their histories and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a culinary arts institute if you will not be able to attend the classes. Therefore confirm that the school you choose provides class scheduling that can accommodate your active lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ because of your job schedule, make certain that the school you choose offers either night or weekend classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the culinary college has a part-time option. Also, ask what the make-up protocol is if you need to miss a class due to family, work or other responsibilities.