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Researching Cooking Programs
At this point 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 institution. Since there a large number of cooking schools in the Phoenix area and across the USA, you must develop a checklist of important qualifiers so that you can start narrowing your choices. Certain obvious qualifiers, for example location and cost are an excellent place to begin. But deciding on a school because it is the nearest or the most affordable is not the best way to decide on your education. There are other considerations, including reputation and accreditation that you must assess as well. Therefore, following are some key areas that you should research for every school as you compare them and make your ultimate selection.
Accreditation. It's essential that the culinary school 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 certified agency, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a thorough evaluation pertaining to their curriculum, instructors and facilities. So not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive exceptional training, but it may also assist in obtaining a student loan or financial aid which are generally not offered for non-accredited schools.
Age. Recently established schools generally have the advantage of possessing modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been open long enough to acquire an accreditation or to cultivate a reputation. On the other hand, older schools may still be using their original, outdated equipment, but have established a lengthy track record of excellence and obtained one or more accreditations. Also, the much more a school has been in business, the more graduates the school can solicit for its job assistance program. Naturally there is some give and take based on the age of the culinary arts schools. And older, more reputable schools typically update their facilities and equipment. 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 newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. Initially, find out what the graduation rates are for the culinary colleges you are evaluating. Lower graduation rates are indicators that many students were dissatisfied with either the colleges or the training and quit before graduating. They might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to teach the course of study. Ask the schools to supply their job placement rates as well. If a school has a high job placement rate, it will help validate that it has a good or exceptional reputation within the culinary field, as well as a wide network of professional connections. Be wary of any school that will not furnish this information.
Location. The culinary school that you enroll in should be within commuting distance of your Phoenix residence, unless you are able to relocate. You may think about attending school online, but you would still need to travel for your externship program. Conversely, maybe you have chosen to attend a particular culinary institute located in a different state due to its prominence and courses offered. It would be a good idea to visit the campus before enrolling, to make sure that you are comfortable with the area 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 a number of schools target their job assistance programs within their regional communities, so choose a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The ideal approach to learn how to cook is with lots of one-on-one instruction. If the culinary institute you enroll in has larger classes, you will most likely get minimal individual attention from the instructors. The optimal way to evaluate the interaction and communication between teachers and students is to sit in on some of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are pleased with the level of attention they get in class as well as the entire course of training. Also, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their teaching approaches are as well as their experiences and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no benefit to in enrolling in a culinary arts institute if you will not be able to attend the classes. So confirm that the school you decide on has available class scheduling that can accommodate your active lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on Saturdays or Sundays near Phoenix AZ due to your job schedule, confirm that the school you pick offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend part-time, check that the culinary arts college has a part-time option. Also, find out what the make-up policy is if you have to miss a class as a result of work, family or other responsibilities.
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