Choosing a Culinary School

How to find the culinary school that’s right for you

The food-preparation industry is booming. There are more than 500 trade schools, colleges, and universities currently offering programs in the culinary arts. This number expands each year as new schools open and established schools start offering programs in the culinary arts. For those interested in a culinary arts education, picking a school can be a very daunting task. With so many schools to choose from, it may seem impossible to figure out which ones are the most reputable. Fortunately, Cooking Schools 101 can help!

Finding the Right Program

When choosing a program at a cooking school or culinary institute, there are several important factors to consider. Your personal career goals are a good starting point. Decide on the type of culinary arts education you want, including the length of the program and what diploma or degree is awarded to those who graduate (Associate’s, Bachelor’s, etc.). Then, look for schools that offer such a program. You’ll want to make sure you enroll in a program that focuses on the aspect of the culinary arts that you’re most interested in. There’s no point in starting a program that focuses on baking if you have no interest in baking. If you don’t know what area of study you want to specialize in, many schools offer broad programs that allow you to "test the waters" before you have a decision regarding your particular area of concentration.

Other Important Factors

You’ll want to consider the quality of education a school provides. It’s a good idea to evaluate several schools, and then compare them with each other. Make sure to find out if the schools you’re interested in are reputable and be sure to consider cooking school accreditation when choosing which school to attend.

Another important consideration is the geographical location of the schools you’re interested in (although this factor is becoming less important as online cooking programs grow in popularity). You may not want to have to move to a new city or make a long commute to get to school.

Finally, learn all that you can about culinary school costs before you enroll. Ask if financial aid is available and if there are any scholarship opportunities. Get information about the jobs and careers that graduates of each school get hired for. Talking to graduates about their experiences at each school can be a valuable source of information.

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