Culinary Arts Colleges

Written by Ingrid Chen
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The task of choosing a culinary arts college to attend may seem confusing or overwhelming. There are an endless number of countries, cities and schools from which to pick. Various sources list the top ranked schools, adjusted on a regular basis. With a little help from these guides, plus some questioning of knowledgeable friends and professors, you can manage to narrow your choices down to a reasonable selection.

Take a look at the cities you want to be in, and then see which schools in those cities sound appealing. Research the programs they offer, how long each course or program lasts, whether you will receive a degree or accreditation at the end of it all, and the job possibilities as a result of a formal culinary education. By doing comprehensive research on the various culinary academies located throughout the country, you will be able to narrow down your choices to a few schools that meet all your criteria.

The Prestige of Specific Culinary Colleges

As in the realm of the Ivy League for traditional schools, there is a similar sort of Ivy League for culinary schools. Many successful chefs graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Le Cordon Bleu is also a name that comes up frequently in discussions about well known and prestigious culinary schools. Some of the world's best chefs attended LCB in Paris, where they learned a wealth of French culinary history, skills and techniques.

It may be encouraging, then, to discover that Le Cordon Bleu has partnered with 16 other schools in the United States to create an accreditation program. This means that the standard of excellence that Le Cordon Bleu in Paris demands of its students and teachers applies to any LCB accredited school in the U.S. Even though it is still important to look at these schools individually, the stamp of LCB gives those schools a particular sense of legitimacy.

By visiting multiple schools, you may come up with a list of questions to ask and get a sense for how to approach admissions representatives and how to best get the information you want. Approach every interview with an idea of what programs the school offers that interest you, be they Culinary Arts, Restaurant Management, or Baking and Pastry, among many other choices. Find out how long every program lasts, the time and length of every class, and the cost of each program. Take copious notes to refer back to so you don't get confused.

Getting a Feel for the School

As much material as you read about all of the schools, nothing compares to actually walking around the facilities, checking in on live courses, sampling some "class work" and, if available, sitting down for lunch at one of the school's restaurants. Although you may visit schools by yourself and get a feel for the programs, you may find it helpful to have a friend or family member join you, and then share feedback later on.

Decide what is best for you. Though reputation may seem a key factor, don't pick a school simply because of a name. Make sure you feel comfortable about being there before you commit. Visit every school and talk to an admissions representative! It makes a huge difference when gauging how you feel about a particular school.

And, most importantly, enjoy yourself. For many individuals, culinary school is about following a passion. By taking your time in looking for a school, you can alleviate much of the pressure to pick a school immediately, and simply enjoy your visits. Many prospective students discover that only then can you get an idea for where you feel the most productive and most comfortable.


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