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Seven Signs of Poor Cooking Schools

Aug 17, 2007
There are many cooking schools vying for your money, but it takes research to find out which ones are worth their price. The first step to making your decision is to weed out the bad apples, so to speak. Here are seven telltale signs that a cooking school isn't fit even for apple pie.

No one has ever heard of them, or if they have, it's not good
We're not talking about your friends and family here. We're talking about people in the industry, such as chefs and their employers. If no one has ever heard of the cooking school you're asking about, the school's name on your resume probably won't impress anyone, either. Even worse, some schools become known for turning out inept graduates. You don't want that reputation haunting your career.

The school isn't accredited
Accreditation is important because it sets standards for education. When an agency accredits a school, they are certifying that the school meets a set of standards that the agency has established. Under this system, a student's credits can be transferred between schools, because the quality of education is guaranteed. If a school is not accredited, it is probably because they aren't up to par, and they should be strictly avoided.

The school is accredited by a questionable agency
While it's true that you won't know all of the possible accreditation agencies, a little bit of online research should turn up some information. If the agency is virtually unheard of in the field, or if its accreditation standards are lower than most, the school's quality of education should be reevaluated.

The school's standards for hiring teachers are low or nonexistent
All schools should have standards that dictate what credentials their teachers should have. Good schools usually require both an education and a work history that demonstrates their proficiency in the subject matter. For instance, an ethnic foods teacher at a good school would have a culinary degree specializing in ethnic foods as well as at least several years of experience as a chef specializing in ethnic foods. Lower hiring standards indicate that the school may not provide you with sufficient knowledge and training to launch your career.

The school's equipment is outdated
Just as with any field that has been touched by technology, the equipment in the culinary industry is constantly improving. A cooking school's classrooms should reflect this, by providing their students the opportunity to learn on up to date equipment.

The school does not offer job placement services
Some cooking schools offer full job placement services, such as help creating your resume, interviewing practice, local job listings, and a guarantee that you'll find a job after graduation. Other cooking schools may offer help with resumes and interviewing skills, but no listings or guarantee of job placement. Regardless, however, any good cooking school should offer some type of job placement services.

The school's graduates have a poor success rate
Many cooking schools like to offer statistics on the success of their graduates. For example, they might tell you that 95 percent of their students are placed in jobs after graduation. Whenever you are researching a school, be sure to ask how successful their graduates are. If they don't know, if they stammer and get flustered when you ask, or if the statistics are just too low for your liking, it's probably a sign that the school isn't providing the quality of education their students need to succeed.

There are a lot of cooking schools out there. Many are good options, and some are nothing short of amazing. However, there are also some that should be avoided by anyone who is serious about pursuing a culinary career. By following this list of warning signs, you can protect yourself from wasting time and money on an education that will do more to damage your career than advance it.
About the Author
Andy West is a freelance writer for The Culinary Institute of Virginia College. Culinard offers two outstanding culinary programs. For information on Alabama cooking schools, please visit http://www.culinard.com .
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