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Contrasting Culinary Schools
By now you should have decided on the type of degree that you wish to earn, and whether or not you want to enroll in a private or a public college. Since there are numerous culinary programs in the Mesa area and within the USA, you will want to develop a checklist of important qualifications so that you can begin narrowing your options. A few obvious qualifiers, including cost and location are a good place to start. But picking a school because it is the nearest or the cheapest is not the optimal way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other variables, for example reputation and accreditation that you must review also. So following are some crucial areas that you will need to research for each school as you compare and contrast them and make your final decision.
Accreditation. It's important that the culinary arts program you choose has some type of accreditation from either a regional or a national organization. As aforementioned, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized organization, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a detailed evaluation relating to their course of study, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help confirm that you will receive excellent training, but it can also help in acquiring a student loan or financial aid which are generally not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools often have the advantage of possessing modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been operating long enough to garner an accreditation or to cultivate a reputation. Conversely, older schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a sustained track record of excellence and obtained one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in business, the more alumni the school can solicit for its job assistance program. Certainly there is some give and take dependent on the age of the cooking schools. And older, more reputable schools typically modernize their equipment and facilities. The significant lesson is that in the best case scenario, your school of choice will have an outstanding reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First off, find out what the graduation rates are for the culinary colleges you are examining. Low graduation rates are red flags that many students were dissatisfied with either the schools or the training and dropped out. They can also signify that the instructors were not competent to teach the course of study. Ask the schools to furnish their job placement rates as well. If a school has a high job placement rate, it will help affirm that it has a great or outstanding reputation within the culinary arts community, in addition to a wide network of professional connections. Be wary of any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The culinary arts institute that you attend should be within driving distance of your Mesa residence, unless you can relocate. You may consider attending college online, but you would still have to travel for your externship training. Conversely, perhaps you have decided to attend a specific culinary arts school located in a different state because of its prominence and courses offered. It would be a good idea to visit the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the location and your potential living conditions. Tour the training facilities personally to make certain 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 choose a location where you will satisfied working.
Class Sizes. The ideal approach to learn how to cook is with lots of one-on-one instruction. If the culinary arts college you enroll in has larger classes, you will most likely receive minimal personal attention from the instructors. The best way to evaluate the interaction and communication between teachers and students is to audit some of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Find out if they are pleased with the amount of attention they receive in class in addition to the overall training. Also, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their teaching approaches are together with their experiences and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no benefit to in enrolling in a culinary arts college if you will be unable to attend the classes. So confirm that the school you decide on has available class scheduling that can work with your busy lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Mesa AZ due to your work schedule, check that the school you choose offers either weekend or evening classes. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the culinary arts school has a part-time offering. Also, find out what the make-up policy is if you must miss a class due to family, work or other commitments.
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