Choosing which culinary school to attend is an important decision. To say that it’s the most important decision you’ll ever make is putting a lot of pressure on you and the institution you attend, but it’s certainly a key one. At a base level, all culinary schools teach certain foundational techniques of cooking. Beyond the basics, culinary schools differ greatly from one another in terms of course length, price and teaching approach. Other variables to take into account are culture and location. Here are some factors to consider when figuring out what’s the best choice for you:
Cost and Duration
Culinary schools will offer either degrees or diplomas. A degree is generally more respected as a qualification as opposed to a diploma. A degree will usually take anywhere from 2 to 4 years to complete and will be more expensive than a diploma. Degree’s are more comprehensive that diplomas and you will receive a wider range of skills and experience. Diploma’s are the cheaper, faster alternative. They are suitable if you’re looking to quickly develop your skills (so as to enter working life sooner) and won’t set you back as much, price wise. A diploma may be a better choice if you’re making a career change and you already have a degree behind you.
Areas of Speciality
Before you’ve attended culinary school it is unlikely that you will know what you want to specialise in. Even if you do, the likelihood of you changing your mind once you’ve been exposed to a wide range of specialities is probable. When considering a culinary school, it may be wise to choose a school that places emphasis on teaching the different areas of speciality, and giving you adequate exposure to each. You will need to focus on your passion once you’ve entered the workforce, so the training you receive at culinary school must prepare you to excel in whichever area you choose.
Social Media Presence
This may seem like an arbitrary consideration, but a culinary schools social media presence will give you a good idea of what the culture of the organisation is, as well as what kind of relationships you might be able to expect. You will likely also get an idea of the extra opportunities you could be exposed to at that school, and get an idea of how involved they are in their student’s development.
Location, Location, Location
There are many location considerations to take into account. First off is proximity to your home. Will you have to organise accommodation? Does the school perhaps provide accommodation? If so, how much is it and is it available to you? This is an important consideration as it will change the overall cost of the school by potentially increasing living cost and accommodation fees. You also may want to consider proximity to family, loved ones and your support systems. In addition to this, the location of a culinary school may affect the opportunities they’ll be able to offer you. This is in relation to internships and jobs after graduation. You may also want to study in a dynamic atmosphere, surrounded by up and coming restaurants and great culinary minds. You may, alternatively, want a quieter atmosphere where you can focus on your studies. General student considerations also apply- are you looking for a party town, or a city vibe? Many people describe their college years as the best in their lives, and this has a great deal to do with the culture of the school.
Consider Graduate Opportunities
At the end of the day, you go to culinary school so you can work in the culinary industry. It’s a good idea to check out what each culinary school does in terms of helping you line up employment after graduation. Do they have great internship programmes? Do they have a career services department? It might be a good idea to see what the alumni of the school are doing. Rather than just looking at the best and the brightest (as curated on culinary school’s websites), get into contact with the career services at the culinary school and ask what recent graduates are doing. While rare, some schools do offer a 100% guarantee of employment after graduation (like we do here at Hurst Culinary School), and this will mean a great deal less stress for you, enabling you to focus on excelling at your studies.
Check out their Website
Cover to cover. Comb through their website to get a good idea of what kind of culinary institution they are. They will often give you a good idea of the culture of their establishment, the courses they offer as well as what type of experience you’ll have there.
Visit the School
Ultimately, you could be spending the next few years of your life at one of these establishments. It’s definitely worth your time to go and visit the school for a day. Ask if you can sit in on a class, chat to some of the students and get a feel for the culture of the place. Remember to phone in advance so they know you’re on the way. Pop up visits may not always be appreciated! Use as many resources as a school will make available to you to help you make your decision.
Taking these things into account when choosing a culinary school will ultimately mean you’ll choose a school which is a better fit for you and your needs. We here at Hurst Culinary School wish you all the best as you embark on the journey of a lifetime.