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Researching Culinary Arts Institutions
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you plan to attain, and if you want to enroll in a public or private institution. Since there are numerous cooking programs in the Nogales area and across the United States, you will want to develop a checklist of important qualifications so that you can begin narrowing down your options. Certain obvious qualifications, for instance location and cost are an excellent place to begin. But selecting a school because it is the closest or the cheapest is not the ideal way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other factors, such as accreditation and reputation that you must review as well. Therefore, following are some key areas that you must research for each school as you compare and contrast them and make your final selection.
Accreditation. It's imperative that the culinary college you decide on has some type of accreditation from either a regional or a national agency. As previously mentioned, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized agency, such as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a comprehensive assessment relating to their course of study, teachers and facilities. So not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive excellent training, but it can 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 possessing modern equipment and facilities. However, they may not have been operating long enough to garner an accreditation or to develop a reputation. Conversely, more established schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a sustained history of excellence and acquired one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has operated, the more graduates the school can solicit for its job placement program. Certainly there is some give and take based on the age of the culinary arts schools. And older, more highly regarded schools typically update their facilities and equipment. The important lesson is that in the best case scenario, your school of choice will have an excellent reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with modern equipment.
Job Placement Rates. To begin with, ask what the graduation rates are for the cooking institutions you are reviewing. Low graduation rates are indicators that numerous students were dissatisfied with either the institutes or the programs and dropped out. They can also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to teach the course of study. Ask the schools to provide their job placement rates as well. If a school has a higher job placement rate, it will help validate that it has a great or excellent reputation within the cooking community, in addition to a large network of professional relationships. Watch out for any school that will not provide this information.
Location. The culinary institute that you enroll in must be within commuting distance of your Nogales residence, unless you are willing to move. You may think about attending school online, but you would still have to travel for your externship training. On the other hand, perhaps you have chosen to attend a particular culinary school located in a different 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 comfortable with the location and your potential living conditions. Inspect the training facilities personally to make certain they are up to date and that the equipment is contemporary. Remember also that many schools focus their job placement programs within their local communities, so pick a location where you will be happy working.
Class Sizes. The best approach to learn how to cook is with lots of personalized training. If the culinary arts school you enroll in has large classes, you will probably get minimal personal attention from the teachers. The optimal way to assess the interaction and communication between instructors and students is to attend several 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 get in class in addition to the entire course of training. Also, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their teaching philosophies are as well as their backgrounds and credentials.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no benefit to in enrolling in a cooking institute if you will be unable to attend the classes. So make sure that the school you choose provides class scheduling that can fit in with your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on Saturdays or Sundays near Nogales AZ due to your job schedule, make certain that the school you select offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the cooking college has a part-time alternative. Also, ask what the make-up policy is if you must miss a class due to family, work or other responsibilities.