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Evaluating Culinary Arts Institutions
By now you should have decided on the type of degree that you plan to earn, and if you want to enroll in a private or a public institution. Since there a large number of culinary arts institutions in the Gilbert area and across the USA, you will want to develop a checklist of important qualifications so that you can start narrowing down your options. A few obvious qualifiers, including cost and location are an excellent place to begin. But selecting a school because it is the closest or the most affordable is not the best way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other variables, including reputation and accreditation that you need to review also. Therefore, below are some key areas that you need to research for each school as you compare them and make your final choice.
Accreditation. It's important that the culinary arts institute you decide on has some form of accreditation from either a local or a national organization. As previously stated, the accrediting agency should be a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged authority, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a comprehensive evaluation pertaining to their curriculum, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help ensure that you will receive excellent training, but it may also assist in obtaining a student loan or financial assistance which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools often have the advantage of having modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been in operation long enough to earn 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 On the other hand, older schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a long history of success and earned one or more accreditations.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 reputable schools usually update their facilities and equipment. The important lesson 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. First off, find out what the graduation rates are for the cooking institutions you are assessing. Lower graduation rates are red flags that many students were dissatisfied with either the institutes or the programs and quit before graduating. They can also signify that the instructors were not competent to teach the curriculum. Request that the schools furnish 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 culinary field, as well as a large network of professional associations. Be skeptical of any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The cooking school that you attend should be within commuting distance of your Gilbert residence, unless you can relocate. You may look into attending school online, but you would still have to travel for your externship training. Conversely, maybe you have opted to enroll in a specific culinary college located in another state because of its reputation and programs offered. It would be a good idea to check out the campus before enrolling, to make certain that you are satisfied with the location and your prospective living conditions. Look over the training facilities in person to make sure they are modern and that the equipment is state of the art. Remember also that a number of schools focus their job placement programs within their regional communities, so pick a location where you will satisfied working.
Class Sizes. The most effective way to learn how to cook is with a lot of personalized instruction. If the culinary arts school you enroll in has large classes, you will undoubtedly receive limited personal attention from the teachers. The best way to evaluate the interaction between instructors and students is to audit a few of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are happy with the amount of attention they receive in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, speak with a few of the instructors and determine what their teaching styles are as well as their experiences and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no sense in enrolling in a cooking college if you will not be able to attend the classes. So confirm that the school you select has available class scheduling that can work with your active lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on weekends near Gilbert AZ due to your work schedule, make sure that the school you decide on offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the culinary school has a part-time offering. Also, find out what the make-up protocol is if you must miss a class as a result of family, work or other responsibilities.
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