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Evaluating Culinary Arts Schools
By now you should have made a decision regarding the type of degree that you plan to earn, and whether or not you want to enroll in a private or a public college. Since there a large number of culinary colleges in the Marana area and within the USA, you need to develop a checklist of essential qualifiers so that you can begin limiting your choices. Some obvious qualifiers, for example location and cost are a good place to begin. But picking a school because it is the closest or the cheapest is not the best way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other criteria, for instance accreditation and reputation that you must review also. So below are some critical areas that you must research for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your final decision.
Accreditation. It's imperative that the culinary arts college you pick has some form of accreditation from either a local or a national organization. As aforementioned, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education certified agency, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a comprehensive review relating to their course of study, teachers and facilities. So not only does accreditation help confirm that you will receive excellent training, but it may also assist in obtaining a student loan or financial aid which are generally not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools generally have the advantage of having modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been open long enough to earn an accreditation or to develop a reputation. Conversely, more established schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a long track record of excellence and obtained one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has operated, the more graduates the school can solicit for its job placement program. Obviously there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary arts schools. And older, more highly regarded schools commonly modernize their equipment and facilities. The valuable takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First off, ask what the graduation rates are for the cooking institutions you are assessing. Lower graduation rates are indicators that numerous students were dissatisfied with either the schools or the training and quit before graduating. They might also suggest that the instructors were not competent to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to provide their job placement rates also. If a school has a higher job placement rate, it will help confirm that it has a great or excellent reputation within the culinary community, as well as a broad network of professional connections. Be wary of any school that will not furnish this information.
Location. The culinary school that you choose should be within commuting distance of your Marana residence, unless you can relocate. You may look into attending classes online, but you would still need to travel for your externship training. Conversely, maybe you have opted to go to a specific culinary school located in another state because of its reputation and courses offered. It would be a wise decision to pay a visit to the campus before enrolling, to make certain that you are comfortable with the location and your prospective living conditions. Check the training facilities personally to make sure they are modern and that the equipment is state of the art. Consider also that many schools target their job assistance programs within their regional communities, so pick a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The ideal approach to learn how to cook is with lots of personalized training. If the cooking college you enroll in has larger classes, you will undoubtedly receive limited individual attention from the teachers. The best manner in which to evaluate the communication and interaction between teachers and students is to audit several of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are satisfied with the amount of attention they receive in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their teaching styles are as well as their histories and qualifications.
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 select provides class scheduling that will accommodate your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on weekends near Marana AZ due to your work schedule, verify that the school you decide on offers either night or weekend classes. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the culinary arts college has a part-time offering. Also, check to see what the make-up policy is if you need to miss a class because of family, work or other responsibilities.
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