to Choose a Cooking School
As an aspiring chef, you
can begin your culinary education a variety of ways. How do you
choose from the more than 500 apprenticeships, vocational schools,
and college and university programs the one that's best suited to
your needs? First, consider the eight questions below.
long is the program?
Career programs range from a few weeks to three or four years. Curricula
for programs of a year or less consist primarily of culinary courses
that prepare you for an entry level position. Two- and four-year
degree programs include general education courses and electives
that provide a more well-rounded education. The 3-year apprenticeship
program sponsored by the American Culinary Federation offers paid
on-the-job training in a foodservice establishment as well as the
opportunity to earn a college degree.
Is it affordable?
Tuition ranges from a few hundred dollars at community colleges
to over $10,000 per program or year at trade schools that offer
a specialized curriculum. If cost is an obstacle, inquire about
scholarships or loans, which are offered by many schools and some
What are the scheduling options?
If you're unable to attend classes full-time, consider programs
that permit you to enroll part-time or offer flexible schedules.
How qualified is the faculty?
Instructor credentials should include certification by the American
Culinary Federation, college degree, and/or industry experience.
Is the school accredited?
A school in operation for five years or more should be accredited.
Colleges are accredited by one of six regional associations, private
and trade schools by three organizations. The American Culinary
Federation accredits 90+ post-secondary institution programs in
culinary arts and foodservice management.
Is real-world experience part of the program?
Some schools have student-staffed open-to-the-public foodservice
facilities on-campus where students are required to work as part
of the program. Others offer intern- or externships in an off-campus
setting as a prerequisite to graduation.
What courses, textbooks, and course materials
Has the school's curriculum adapted to today's healthier lifestyles
with emphasis on fresh ingredients, nutrition, and a variety of
international cuisines. Do they offer specialized courses in the
subjects that interest you?
What kind of job offers can you expect?
Will the school's placement office be able to find you a position
in the setting you desire? Obtain the names of graduates and contact
them to determine whether the school met their expectations for
training and placement.
At any time you can click on our Information
Form Service in order to have your details circulated to
multiple academic institutions so they can mail you comprehensive
further information and brochures. Remember this service is completely
free of charge.
If you are applying to a college or university
in the United Kingdom, please read our advice on completing your
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