Choosing a Culinary School

We discussed on this very blog a short time ago about the advantages of going to a culinary school (as well as learning on the job; search my name on the right to find that post). Of course, let’s say you decide that you want the best background you can get, so you’re going to go to culinary school. That’s a great choice, and I myself know many who have gotten a great education and have seen some success with their educations. You do want to remember that choosing a culinary school is just looking choosing anything else of major importance; you want to consider a variety of elements before you make your choice. So let’s discuss some of those elements to consider when choosing a culinary school.

-First, consider what you want to do. There are several track to consider, including culinary arts (overall what you need to know to be a top notch chef); bakery and pastry arts (to be come the next cake boss); and hospitality management (which focuses more on the business side of running a restaurant). Your ultimate career goal will help decide which path you should take.

-Once you’ve chosen your track, consider what kind of program you’d like to pursue. This includes diploma or certification programs (ideal for those aiming for a specialized skill or just getting the very basics; may take up to a year), an Associate’s degree (which means basic skills in overall culinary skills; this can take up to two years to complete), or a Bachelor’s degree (gives students a chance to get culinary skills as well as provide the start of leadership and management skills; this will probably take up to four years).

-Once that’s been decided, you have to decide where you want to go (geographically speaking). Ideally, you wouldn’t want to move obviously, especially if you have a family or you happen to like the area where you live. This may come up as a consideration if there is a particular path you’d like to take and if a school in your area doesn’t offer that path, then you’ll have to think about what you’re shooting for.

-Lastly, think about what you can afford. A formal education, while lucrative, is not always cheap. Some certificate programs may only cost a few hundred dollars, but the esteemed culinary school may have a tuition of tens of thousands. Also, remember that there are other things you’ll need to purchase, such as tools and uniforms, as well as paying for your school expenses. If you can do it out of pocket, then good for you, but do remember there are loans if you’re willing to use them.

No matter what, your experience will be invaluable to your future success, so think long and hard before jumping into this decision. And best of luck! And let me know where you work once you’re out of school…I like steak.

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