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Evaluating Culinary Arts Programs
By now you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you plan to attain, and whether or not you want to enroll in a private or a public school. Since there a large number of culinary arts programs in the Florence area and across the Country, you need to develop a checklist of essential qualifiers so that you can start limiting your choices. Certain obvious qualifiers, for instance location and cost are a good place to begin. But selecting a school because it is the nearest or the least expensive is not the ideal way to decide on your education. There are other considerations, for instance reputation and accreditation that you need to evaluate also. So following are some crucial areas that you should research for each school as you compare and contrast them and make your ultimate selection.
Accreditation. It's important that the culinary arts institute you pick has some type of accreditation from either a local or a national agency. As aforementioned, the accrediting organization should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized authority, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a detailed evaluation relating to their course of study, instructors and facilities. So not only does accreditation help ensure that you will receive quality training, but it can also help in acquiring a student loan or financial assistance which are generally not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools frequently have the advantage of having modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been operating long enough to earn an accreditation or to establish a reputation. On the other hand, more established schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a sustained track record of excellence and acquired one or more accreditations. Also, the much more a school has operated, the more alumni the school can reach out to for its job assistance 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 facilities and equipment. The significant takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an exceptional reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. To begin with, find out what the graduation rates are for the culinary institutes you are looking at. Low graduation rates are indicators that a number of students were dissatisfied with either the schools or the programs and dropped out. They might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to teach the curriculum. Request that the schools provide their job placement rates also. If a college has a high job placement rate, it will help verify that it has a great or exceptional reputation within the culinary arts field, as well as a wide network of professional connections. Watch out for any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The culinary institute that you enroll in should be within driving distance of your Florence residence, unless you are able to relocate. You may consider attending college online, but you would still have to travel for your externship program. Alternatively, maybe you have decided to attend a particular culinary college located in another state because of its prominence and programs offered. It would be a wise decision to visit the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the area and your potential living conditions. Tour the training facilities personally to make certain they are up to date and that the equipment is contemporary. Consider also that many schools concentrate their job placement programs within their regional communities, so choose a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The most effective approach to learn how to cook is with plenty of personalized training. If the culinary college you enroll in has bigger classes, you will probably get little personal attention from the instructors. The ideal manner in which to evaluate the interaction and communication between instructors and students is to attend a few of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are satisfied with the amount of attention they get in class in addition to the entire course of training. Also, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their teaching approaches are as well as their histories and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a culinary arts program if you will not be able to attend the classes. Therefore confirm that the school you choose offers class scheduling that will accommodate your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on weekends near Florence AZ because of your job schedule, check that the school you decide on offers either weekend or evening classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the culinary arts program has a part-time alternative. Also, find out what the make-up protocol is if you have to miss a class as a result of work, family or other commitments.