Pros: Worldwide recognition, all major accreditations, learning beyond cooking and learning what it takes to own or operate a world class establishment
Cons: expense, the heat, single location
While many of us first think of LCB, AI, J/W or CIA as the cooking schools most likely to get a quick certification and a quick placement, it might be a good idea to consider traditional academia as another source to learn the trade. Colleges and Universities, particularly in towns noted as tourist destinations often have fantastic programs. Even if you don't choose UNLV, please DO consider a college or university if you live near a tourist destination.
You can learn to cut a tourne, sauté anything, braise anything and pass your ServSafe anywhere in the USA. You don't even need to go to a culinary school. You can do it on your own without having to pay years of student loans.
And most of the culinary schools have degenerated to the point where they are no longer marketed at the traditional chef. They are now marketed to the habitually unemployed that has a government entitlement, and they are advertised on daytime shock/talk shows. They make the perspective student think they will be the next Food Network star or the next reality TV masterchef.
Of the traditional academic schools, I'd like for people to consider UNLV's William Harrah College of Hotel Administration. It is internationally famous. While still attending school, you can easily get a job with any one of a score of international hotel chains. As most of us in the industry know, if you're working for a major chain, you can transfer all over the world, or you can move to the "competitor" and have them instantly know the level of your profession.
UNLV has just about every accreditation on earth. It's degree is beyond culinary. It's an academic degree in case you decide to change careers. In most careers, a college degree is a college degree. So, if you change career paths, you still have a degree to show for it. With most of the culinary schools, if you change professions, you'll have nothing to show for it. And we all know that a large percentage of students that attend these schools will be leaving the industry because it simply isn't what they thought it was.
You'll have no trouble at all securing traditional loans, grants, internships and scholarships because of it's reputation. I think most loan companies have become wary of the "schools" that have daytime shock show advertisements. They know that if you attend one of those schools, you might get placed, but you'll be placed just above minimum wage, and you'll quickly become disillusioned with what you thought the industry was. Our industry is not glamour. It's tough work and it's a business.
This degree is not an "I know how to poach a perfect egg" certification. It is a real University degree that shows that you know what it takes to run a business, know how gather data and analyze costs. You will not think just reactively to the immediate P&L, you'll know how to think strategically. You'll be able to effectively communicate with employees, customers, providers, competitors and stakeholders. You'll know how to negotiate and read a contract. You'll know how to minimize or mitigate any points of liability. You'll know how to attract and retain customers.
Most culinary schools call a job doing prep or a job "on the line" for barely above minimum wage, "successful placement". When you graduate from UNLV/Harrah College, and you go through "placement", you're not going to be doing prep or working the line as a garde manger, although you can if you choose to. UNLV already has business contacts with every resort in town and probably every major hotel chain in the world. If you graduate from UNLV, chances are, you're going to be looking a managing a kitchen or managing a business. And, if you decide to, you'll have the best school in the nation in it's field, when you approach a bank or a venture capitalist for a business loan if you leave the corporate world and open your own place.