Pros: Knowledgeable instructors, state-of-the-art kitchens and dining facilities, affordable tuition and scholarships and tuition assistance is available
Cons: Early semester overcrowding and limited parking during this time, high drop-out rate, poor "team" spirit, and some class disruptions
Focus on your goal and let everything else fall to the wayside.
Laney College is convenient and affordable, located in downtown Oakland, California. The Culinary Arts department offers students the opportunity learn the basics skills needed to pursue an entry-level position in the field. The instructors are well-traveled and some have worked alongside celebrity chefs. Some have worked overseas and bring their international expertise to the campus kitchens.
A good number of people assume culinary school is just about cooking, but it covers an array of topics a good chef must master in order to be successful, which leads me to the Sanitation/Nutrition classes. This class familiarizes students with the hazards of micro-organisms and how they affect the food industry; proper time/temperature zones, HACCP, just to name a few. These subjects are very involved and some students do not possess the discipline to do the work required and to practice the procedures learned.
Culinary Math is extremely important and covers food and labor costs, prime cost percentages, requisitions, credit memos, FIFO, LIFO, etc. Again, the instructors make it their first priority to assist students in understanding the material and putting it into practice through work-groups and practice quizzes.
We also rotate to the various stations in the kitchen to ensure everyone is familiar with the saute station, grill, pantry, sous chef, and back-up stations for the line. Laney has a Student Center where a student can grab a seat, whip out a book and purchase hot or cold sandwiches, soup, a hot entree, or an Asian dish or salad and various other salads. If you are in the mood for a formal setting, there's Laney's Bistro. It is a bright and sunny atrium-styled bistro that serves a daily core menu with a selection of International cuisine as well. Meals from different countries are served every day, except it is closed on Mondays.
The classrooms are large and there's even a forum that holds about 200 students. Laney has a theater that produces live plays and music and during the Spring and Fall, free live shows are presented in the main courtyard.
The only drawback with Laney is that some of the students are confused about their goals, which results in a high drop-out rate. My freshman class in 2012 consisted of 180 students, but has quickly dwindled down to 10. The other snag is you really need to secure your personal property. Laney is a good school, provided YOU DO THE WORK. Some students become disenchanted with the program as soon as they discover that there are a few subjects that require quite a bit of study time, so they leave. Too bad.