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What to look for in a Culinary School

Why choose one of the schools available here on Culinary World? What makes one culinary school better than another? What should you look for in a culinary school? The answers to these an many other questions are available here on our site, with the most updated and pertinent information on the web for perspective culinary students throughout North America.

Here at Culinary World, we have come up with a few important things to keep in mind when choosing the culinary school. We hope these help:

1. Do a 'Cost-Benefit Analysis' – Make sure that the degree you earn will prepare you for the career you have in mind. Your culinary degree is an investment in your future, and as such, will cost you both time and money. Be sure that the school and program you choose will give you the chance for a payoff of both in the future. A few points to investigate from each school are:

  • Average employment rates after graduation
  • Average salaries of recent graduates
  • Professional network provided by schoo
  • Good reputation

2. Find a good blend of classroom and practical training – Many of the culinary schools have not only classroom learning but hands-on training in live kitchen environments. Practical training can provide the experience and skills necessary to not only secure a job but also excel at that job right from the start. Some things to consider regarding a school's training facility are:

  • Review the school's facilities
  • Find out each degree's required number of hours in the kitchen or training facility
  • What types of classes are provided in the kitchen facility (Do they match your career goals?)
  • Do any schools run a real live restaurant?
  • Does the school provide access to a professional internship opportunity?

3. Find a school that provides professors and faculty with a strong reputation – Reputation is everything. Professors who have gained respect within the industry can not only impart their knowledge upon their students, but can also lend that credibility to the reputation of their graduates. A few things to look for:

  • Find out how many Master Chefs or Master Bakers are on the faculty.
  • Are there any Certified Certified Hospitality Educators (C.H.E.s) on the faculty?
  • Are there members of the faculty who specialize in your chosen interest, ie: particular regional cuisine, cooking style?
  • Does the school provide a favorable student/faculty ratio?

4. Find a school that provides the actual degree level you need – Many culinary schools provide accustomed degree programs that are tailored to a specific culinary career. Be sure to note how much schooling is preferred for your specific career . Many culinary schools provide diploma, certificate and degree programs lasting from as little as 8 months to as much as a 4-year bachelors degree. Its good to be aware of the following:

  • Associates and bachelors degree programs that provide instruction in a variety of areas, giving students marketability in more than one culinary field or specific area.
  • Regional accreditation if not national accreditation in the specified culinary field for which you are studying. Check with accreditation bodies for each program for which you are interested.

5. Find a campus community that you are comfortable with – Find out about the specific campus environment of each school. Do they have a diverse and well-rounded student body? Will this be a campus environment in which you will enjoy spending your time? Remember, you will be here for the majority of your studies, so make sure to choose a campus you are comfortable with. Some things to consider are:

  • Diversity in both the student body and faculty.
  • Does the institution have an attractive campus with good facilities? If you're in need of student housing, is the available, attractive and affordable?
  • Does the school provide access to a good natural culinary environment? Is the school located in a city that provides a culture in which you are interested?

6. Financial aid and student loan programs – Remember point number one, this is after an investment in your future. Find out if the school you choose has access to a credible student aid program that owes you the opportunity to afford your education. Find out if each institution:

  • Provides a clear and defined explanation of costs including tuition, books, materials, living expenses and other costs.
  • Provides information in their financial aid office that ows you to make the cost/benefit analysis for your specified career goals.
  • Provides access to industry scholarships and grants.
  • Knowledgeable financial aid staff who are there to help you from your first year through graduation and beyond.

Choosing a culinary arts program will be the most important decision you make at this time. Take the time to review each school and program and find out what they have to offer. Each institution employs a knowledgeable staff to assist prospective students who are interested in beginning their degree.

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