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Researching Culinary Institutes
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you wish to earn, and whether or not you would like to enroll in a public or private school. Since there are numerous culinary institutions in the Goodyear area and across the Country, you must develop a checklist of important qualifiers so that you can start limiting your options. A few obvious qualifications, including cost and location are an excellent place to begin. But deciding on a school because it is the nearest or the least expensive is not the optimal way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other considerations, such as reputation and accreditation that you should assess as well. Therefore, following are some critical areas that you will need to investigate for every school as you compare them and make your final choice.
Accreditation. It's imperative that the culinary school you decide on 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 agency, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a thorough assessment regarding their course of study, teachers and facilities. So not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive exceptional training, but it can also assist in obtaining a student loan or financial aid which are generally not offered for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools frequently have the benefit of possessing modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been open long enough to garner an accreditation or to establish a reputation. Conversely, older schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a lengthy track record of success and earned one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in business, the more alumni the school can solicit for its job placement program. Obviously there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary schools. And older, more renowned schools typically modernize their equipment and facilities. The significant takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an outstanding reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. To begin with, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary programs you are looking at. Low graduation rates are red flags that numerous students were unhappy with either the schools or the programs and dropped out. They may also indicate that the teachers were not competent to teach the course of study. Ask the schools to provide their job placement rates also. If a college has a higher job placement rate, it will help confirm that it has a great or exceptional reputation within the cooking field, as well as a large network of professional contacts. Be wary of any school that will not furnish this information.
Location. The culinary arts school that you choose should be within driving distance of your Goodyear residence, unless you can move. You may think about attending classes online, but you would still have to travel for your externship training. On the other hand, maybe you have decided to go to a particular culinary arts college located in another state because of its reputation and programs offered. It would be a good idea to check out the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the location and your potential living conditions. Check the training facilities personally to make certain they are up to date and that the equipment is contemporary. 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 enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The ideal method to learn how to cook is with lots of one-on-one training. If the cooking program you enroll in has bigger classes, you will undoubtedly get little personal attention from the teachers. The optimal manner in which to assess the communication and interaction between faculty 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 happy with the amount of attention they receive in class in addition to the overall training. Also, talk with several of the instructors and determine what their teaching approaches are as well as their experiences and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a cooking school if you will not be able to attend the classes. So make sure that the school you select offers class scheduling that will work with your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on Saturdays or Sundays near Goodyear AZ due to your work schedule, check that the school you choose offers either night or weekend classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the cooking program has a part-time offering. Also, ask what the make-up protocol is if you have to miss a class due to work, family or other obligations.