Deciding whether or not to enter culinary school involves major contemplation. Some people eventually decide not to pursue. But those who decide to take up cooking classes should choose the right school. There are many culinary schools, and finding the ones with good reputation should be your priority.
Look for accredited schools.
In the United States, professional chefs have an organization called the American Culinary Federation (AFC). It regulates culinary schools, making sure they adhere to national standards in instruction and school facility. Schools should seek ACF accreditation to have high standing in the country.
The requirements for ACF accreditation are tough. To be accredited, a culinary school must have good curriculum, standard facilities, acceptable teacher-student ratios, certified/licensed instructors, and adequate learning materials. When a school is accredited, you know they have what it takes to offer competent instruction.
Consider the cost of culinary arts.
Ask any culinary arts student and they will tell you tuition is high. Cooking schools can charge about forty thousand dollars or even more. Many students cannot afford the cost, so they obtain student loans. When they graduate, they have to pay the debt, but there are a few entry-level cookery and food service jobs that pay high enough.
The high cost of culinary arts is enough to discourage many aspiring students. However, there are schools that offer affordable tuition. For instance, there are community colleges in California where culinary programs cost only about a thousand dollars. That is not so bad when compared to forty thousand dollars of tuition fees offered elsewhere. And you have to note that culinary programs do not have to be expensive.
Go to schools with good reputation.
New cooking schools are being established today to meet the needs of an increasing population of people who are interested in culinary arts. These new schools are usually not better than the old ones. Old schools most likely have accreditation. New schools may only be working to be accredited. Old schools with good track of record should be your best bet. There is a good reason why they lasted long in the field. Seasoned cooking schools are already aware of the market and most definitely would be able to provide instruction congruent to current market trends in culinary discipline.
Check the facilities of the school.
You will have to visit the school in person to find out if they have good buildings, comfortable rooms, and adequate facilities and equipment. This is where low-charging culinary arts institutions fall below the high-charging ones. The latter definitely would have enough budget to buy new facilities and do school improvements. Community colleges offering culinary arts may fall behind expensive schools when it comes to facilities and equipment. But who needs state-of-the-art facilities, especially when not all restaurants and kitchens in the world use them?
Ask senior students about their on-the-job training experience.
Culinary arts students cannot finish their course without going through a simulation training, wherein they are subjected to real-world restaurant training. This training should be realistic. The best schools do not spoil their students with practical restaurant service training wherein they only serve about twenty people daily. This is unrealistic. There are schools that actually require their students to work at local restaurants to get the actual feel of what it is like to work as a cook for real.