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Evaluating Culinary Arts Schools
By now you should have decided on the type of degree that you plan to earn, and whether or not you want to enroll in a public or private institution. Since there are numerous cooking programs in the Prescott area and across the United States, you will want to develop a checklist of essential qualifications so that you can start narrowing your options. Certain obvious qualifiers, such as location and cost are a good place to begin. But selecting a school because it is the closest or the most affordable is not the best way to make a decision regarding your education. There are other criteria, including accreditation and reputation that you need to assess also. So following are some crucial areas that you should investigate for every school as you compare and contrast them and make your ultimate choice.
Accreditation. It's essential that the cooking college you select has some type of accreditation from either a local or a national agency. As previously stated, the accrediting authority should be a U.S. Department of Education recognized agency, for example the American Culinary Federation (ACF). ACF accredited schools have successfully completed a comprehensive assessment regarding their course of study, teachers and facilities. Therefore not only does accreditation help ensure that you will receive quality training, but it may also help in obtaining a student loan or financial assistance which are generally not available for non-accredited schools.
Age. Newer schools generally have the benefit of having modern facilities and equipment. However, they may not have been operating long enough to acquire an accreditation or to establish a reputation. On the other hand, more established schools may still be using their original, dated equipment, but have established a lengthy track record of success and acquired one or more accreditations. Also, the longer a school has been in operation, the more graduates the school can solicit for its job placement program. Certainly there is some give and take dependent on the age of the culinary arts schools. And older, more renowned schools usually modernize their facilities and equipment. The important takeaway is that in the best case scenario, your school of choice will have an exceptional reputation, accreditation and a modern facility with newer equipment.
Job Placement Rates. First, find out what the graduation rates are for the culinary institutions you are looking at. Lower graduation rates are indicators that many students were dissatisfied with either the schools or the programs and quit before graduating. They can also suggest that the instructors were not competent to teach the course of study. Request that the schools furnish their job placement rates also. If a school has a high job placement rate, it will help verify that it has a great or outstanding reputation within the culinary arts community, in addition to a broad network of professional contacts. Watch out for any school that will not furnish this information.
Location. The culinary college that you attend must be within driving distance of your Prescott home, unless you can relocate. You may think about attending college online, but you would still have to travel for your externship training. On the other hand, maybe you have decided to enroll in a specific culinary arts college located in a different state because of its ranking and programs offered. It would be a good idea to check out the facility before enrolling, to make sure that you are satisfied with the location and your prospective living conditions. Check the training facilities in person to make certain they are up to date and that the equipment is state of the art. Keep in mind also that a number of schools target their job assistance programs within their local communities, so choose a location where you will satisfied working.
Class Sizes. The best way to learn how to cook is with plenty of one-on-one instruction. If the cooking college you enroll in has large classes, you will probably get little individual attention from the teachers. The ideal means to assess the communication and interaction between instructors and students is to attend several of the classes. Ask a couple of the students what their experience has been. Ascertain if they are happy with the amount of attention they get in class in addition to the entire course of training. Also, talk with some of the teachers and determine what their teaching approaches are as well as their experiences and qualifications.
Flexible Class Schedules. There is no point in enrolling in a culinary arts school if you will be unable to attend the classes. So make sure that the school you select has available class scheduling that will accommodate your hectic lifestyle. If you can only attend at night or on weekends near Prescott AZ due to your job schedule, verify that the school you choose offers either weekend or night classes. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the culinary arts school has a part-time offering. Also, find out what the make-up policy is if you need to miss a class because of work, family or other commitments.