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Evaluating Culinary Arts Schools
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 private or a public institute. Since there a large number of culinary arts colleges in the Maricopa area and within the USA, you will want to develop a checklist of essential qualifiers so that you can start limiting your options. Some obvious qualifiers, for example location and cost are an excellent place to start. But choosing a school because it is the nearest or the cheapest is not the best way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other variables, for example accreditation and reputation that you should review also. Therefore, following are some critical areas that you need to investigate for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your final choice.
Accreditation. It's imperative that the cooking college you pick has some type of accreditation from either a regional or a national organization. As previously mentioned, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged authority, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a thorough assessment pertaining to their course of study, instructors and facilities. So not only does accreditation help confirm that you will receive quality training, but it can also help in securing a student loan or financial assistance which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established 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 develop a reputation. Conversely, older schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a sustained history of excellence and acquired one or more accreditations. Also, the much more a school has been in business, the more alumni the school can solicit for its job assistance program. Naturally there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary schools. And older, more renowned schools usually update their equipment and facilities. The important lesson is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First, ask what the graduation rates are for the culinary arts colleges you are reviewing. Low graduation rates are indicators that many students were unhappy with either the institutes or the programs and quit before graduating. They may also signify that the instructors were not qualified to teach the course of study. Ask the schools to supply their job placement rates as well. If a college has a high job placement rate, it will help verify that it has a good or outstanding reputation within the cooking community, in addition to a large network of professional connections. Be skeptical of any school that will not furnish this information.
Location. The culinary institute that you attend should be within commuting distance of your Maricopa residence, unless you are able to relocate. You may think about attending school online, but you would still need to travel for your externship training. Conversely, maybe you have chosen to attend a specific culinary arts school located in a different state because of its ranking and courses offered. It would be a good idea to check out the campus before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the location and your future living conditions. Check the training facilities in person to make sure they are modern and that the equipment is contemporary. Keep in mind also that many schools concentrate their job assistance programs within their regional communities, so choose a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The best method to learn how to cook is with a lot of personalized instruction. If the cooking school you enroll in has larger classes, you will undoubtedly receive limited individual attention from the instructors. The optimal manner in which to assess the interaction between faculty and students is to attend several of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are satisfied with the level of attention they get in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their teaching approaches are along with their histories and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no benefit to in enrolling in a culinary arts institute if you will be unable to attend the classes. Therefore make certain that the school you choose offers class scheduling that can work with your active lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Maricopa AZ because of your work schedule, make certain that the school you pick offers either weekend or evening classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the culinary arts program has a part-time option. Also, ask what the make-up protocol is if you must miss a class because of family, work or other commitments.