Welcome to Culinary Schools Connection – your pathway to training and careers in the culinary arts! Whether your dream is to become a world-famous chef, start your own catering business, or become a manager in the food industry, enrolling in a culinary arts school is the first step.
The Value of a Culinary Arts Degree
You know that it’s possible to get almost any job in food without a college degree, but according to the most-recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the competition is about to get tougher for jobs in food and hospitality. This means that it’s now more important than ever to have a culinary arts degree, certificate, or diploma.
Not only can formal education and training help you get your foot in the door, but it also teaches you the skills to go into management or start your own business. Of all the advantages to having a degree though, the biggest is that it’s going to be even more valuable in the future!
What to Look for in Culinary Schools
Culinary arts schools (sometimes called “cooking schools”) come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important to have some idea of what you’re getting into before you start filling-out applications. You can usually take care of this problem by asking five simple questions.
Is the school accredited?
One of the biggest concerns for future students is their school’s reputation in professional circles. You’ve probably heard horror stories about colleges that misrepresent their graduates’ professional success rates. To make sure that you’re weeding-out less-than-reputable schools from your list of candidates, you can check their accreditation status with the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
Headed by some of the nation’s top chefs, the ACF is responsible for regulating culinary schools in North America. Being accredited means that the school in question meets the ACF’s standards for class curriculum, faculty credentials and the other factors essential to providing culinary training at the highest level.
How are the facilities?
Most students assume that the kitchen and classroom facilities are state-of-the-art in every culinary program. Unfortunately, because of the different levels of funding enjoyed by schools, and several other variables, it’s not always the case.
Before signing-up for classes, you should take a tour of the school’s facilities. Make sure that the tools available – and learning environment – are up to your expectations, and will get you ready for the modern workplace.
Are externships available?
As you probably know, some top culinary schools have their own student-staffed restaurants that are open to the public. Some also have partnerships with local eateries where their students can gain valuable experience in working externships. Offering these programs is essential to preparing students for the fast-paced, often-hectic, environment in professional kitchens.
Be sure to ask about opportunities for hands-on training at each school during your search. Getting experience cooking for, and serving, real customers is essential, so make sure that any program you consider offers this in its curriculum.
How much will it cost?
It’s not a secret that tuition for some culinary schools is expensive. So, before choosing a culinary arts program, you should sit down and plan-out your long-term finances. Setting a realistic budget to live on while you earn your degree will help you decide how much debt you can carry, and ultimately, which schools you can afford.
Is there financial aid?
To find help paying for your studies, you should ask about each school’s financial aid packages. Some of the loans, scholarships and grants might differ from one institution to the next, but most culinary arts schools offer some types of:
- Student loans
- Grants and scholarships
- Work-study programs
It’s not unheard of for the total cost of earning a culinary arts degree to run in the tens-of-thousands of dollars, so take advantage of any financial aid programs available and let someone else help you pay for college.
About Online Culinary Schools
Thanks to improved access to distance learning, online culinary schools have recently become the preferred option for many students. For anyone who is working, juggling family and personal commitments, or who doesn’t live near a culinary college, the flexibility and convenience offered by online classes is priceless.
In addition to giving them the opportunity to work on their studies at any time and place they like, online culinary classes also help students save money on transportation, books and other expenses associated with traditional schooling.
If sounds appealing to you, be sure to read our guide to the top online culinary schools on the web.
Let’s Get Started!
Culinary Schools Connection gives you all the tools you need to find a school that can kick-start your career. In addition to providing a searchable directory of the best culinary schools in each state, we also profile the most-popular careers in food, offer a beginner’s guide to culinary arts degrees and certificates, and a whole lot more. Take a look around!