Cooking Degree Programs
How to Choose the Right One Near Prescott Arizona
Deciding to become a chef and enrolling in a culinary college near Prescott AZ is a great career choice. Not only will you be taught how to create incredible meals or make lavish desserts, you'll also be able to make a good income doing it. However, exactly how do you go about selecting a culinary school now that you've made your decision to enroll? Prior to reaching your final choice, what qualifications should you research and compare among the cooking schools you are considering? If you want to be successful in the restaurant and hospitality business you must select the right culinary program and degree. There are a multitude of alternatives to pick from, beginning with a diploma or certificate program and advancing to earning an undergraduate or even a graduate degree. You can attend a small cooking school, an online program, or enroll in a large culinary institute that provides more advanced degree programs. The type of credential and school you select will undoubtedly be based upon how much money and time you can afford to spend, together with your ultimate career objective. When you have determined what your primary area of interest and budget are, you can begin examining the culinary arts schools that meet your initial requirements. Depending on the degree and type of culinary school you select, you may be employed as a professional chef or cook in just 6 months. So before we dig more into the method of choosing a school, let's talk a little bit more about the degree and culinary school options that are available.
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Culinary Arts Colleges
When you have made your choice regarding the kind of training and degree that you would like to pursue, you can begin your search for the cooking school, college or institute that offers it. For example, if your desire is to become a chef specializing in Spanish cuisine, then of course you will concentrate on those colleges that offer the appropriate training. Or you can opt for a school based on its reputation or other criteria (we'll cover a few of those later) and then pick the most ideal degree program offered that is simpatico with your career objectives in Prescott AZ. However you arrive at your decision, cooking schools typically fit within three distinct categories:
- Cooking Schools. Some cooking schools do offer degree programs, but usually they offer certificates or diplomas. Their courses tend to be more specialized in nature, and they can last anywhere from a couple of months to as long as three or four years.
- Community Colleges. Local community colleges can be more inexpensive than most private schools and many have exceptional programs. They almost exclusively offer Associate's Degrees and are established and maintained by either state or local governments.
- Culinary Arts Schools and Institutes. The more advanced training and degrees are offered by culinary arts colleges and institutes. A few institutes provide the most renowned and highest level of training in academia. Unfortunately, since they are private schools they tend to be more costly than their public counterparts, some much more.
Picking a culinary arts college will not only be based on the kind of program or degree you wish to pursue, but also how much you have to spend on your education. If you decide to attend a public school to minimize expenses, remember that out-of-state residents normally have to pay a higher tuition than in-state residents. In addition, a lot of community colleges and regional public schools have lower tuition rates for local residents. So be sure to explore the public alternatives within Arizona as well as within the Prescott AZ area to discover the most economical options.
Online Culinary Arts Classes
Some potential students may find that there are no culinary institutes that are within driving distance of their Prescott AZ residence. One solution is to attend online training within the convenience of one's residence. The convenience and flexibility makes it the one solution for many students that continue working full time while attending school. In addition there are more schools online than ever before that are accredited. Keep in mind that a significant component of the instruction will be furnished through an externship. Externships are programs where students train under local chefs or other culinary arts professionals to ensure that they obtain practical training outside of the virtual classroom. Just make sure that the online college you enroll in is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized organization (more on this later). And so if you are dedicated enough to be able to participate in classes and study using this more independent method, attaining a culinary arts degree online might be the best option for you.
Contrasting Culinary Arts Colleges
At this point you should have decided on the type of degree that you want to attain, and if you would like to enroll in a public or private institute. Since there are numerous culinary arts colleges in the Prescott area and within the USA, you must develop a checklist of important qualifications so that you can start narrowing your options. Some obvious qualifications, including location and cost are an excellent place to start. But picking a school because it is the closest or the least expensive is not the ideal way to decide on your education. There are other factors, including accreditation and reputation that you should review as well. Therefore, below are some key areas that you need to research for every school as you compare them and make your final selection.
Accreditation. It's important that the culinary arts program you decide on has some type of accreditation from either a regional or a national authority. As mentioned previously, the accrediting organization should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized agency, for instance the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have passed a comprehensive review regarding their curriculum, instructors and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help establish that you will receive quality training, but it can also assist in obtaining a student loan or financial aid which are frequently 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 in operation 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 long track record of success and received one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in business, 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 lesson is that in the best case scenario, your chosen school will have an outstanding reputation, accreditation and a state-of-the-art facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First off, ask what the graduation rates are for the cooking colleges you are evaluating. Lower graduation rates are indications that many students were unhappy with either the schools or the programs and quit before graduating. They may also signify that the instructors were not competent to teach the curriculum. Ask the schools to provide their job placement rates as well. If a college has a high job placement rate, it will help confirm that it has a good or outstanding reputation within the culinary field, in addition to a large network of professional relationships. Be wary of any school that will not supply this information.
Location. The culinary arts institute that you attend must be within driving distance of your Prescott residence, unless you have decided to move. You may think about attending school online, but you would still need to travel for your externship training. Alternatively, perhaps you have chosen to attend a specific culinary arts institute located in a different state due to its reputation and programs offered. It would be a good idea to visit the campus before enrolling, to make certain that you are comfortable with the location and your potential living conditions. Tour the training facilities in person to make certain they are up to date and that the equipment is contemporary. Keep in mind also that many schools concentrate their job placement programs within their regional communities, so select a location where you will enjoy working.
Class Sizes. The best approach to learn how to cook is with a lot of personalized instruction. If the culinary program you enroll in has large classes, you will undoubtedly get minimal individual attention from the teachers. The best manner in which to assess the communication and interaction between teachers and students is to audit some of the classes. Ask some of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are happy with the level of attention they receive in class as well as the overall training. Also, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their teaching approaches are as well as their backgrounds and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a culinary institute if you will be unable to attend the classes. So make certain that the school you choose has available class scheduling that will accommodate your active lifestyle. If you can only attend in the evening or on weekends near Prescott AZ because of your job schedule, check that the school you choose offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend part-time, confirm that the cooking program has a part-time offering. Also, ask what the make-up policy is if you must miss a class because of family, work or other responsibilities.
Find the Right Prescott Culinary School
A rewarding career in the restaurant and hospitality industry is predicated upon deciding on the right chef program. As we have covered, there are a number of things that you should take into consideration when comparing schools, such as their reputations, accreditation, and training facilities. Just like any important decision, you must begin by getting information, and the most effective means to do that is by getting in touch with culinary schools directly, either face to face or over the phone. If you're not sure about which schools to consider, you might want to consider consulting with chefs in your city about any cooking schools they endorse. Afterwards use the Internet to check out these schools even more before contacting them. By making the effort to exhaustively evaluate each of your education alternatives, you will be in a more ideal position to make an educated decision. And when you choose the ideal school, you will have a great beginning toward your goal of becoming a chef in Prescott Arizona.