Pros: Detailed curriculum, chefs with industry experience, affordable
Cons: It's a long program - could take 2-4 years to graduate with an AS degree
I am currently enrolled in Valencia's Baking & Pastry Management AS degree program. Valencia was not my first-choice school, but when I was not able to attend one of the country's top schools in Florida, it seemed like a good option. I've slowly grown to love it and I'm happy I made the choice I did.
The curriculum at Valencia is very similar to those offered at private schools. The program offers in-depth instruction on breads, cakes, chocolates, etc. All of the chefs I've encountered have lots of industry experience and are knowledgeable about what they teach. We also learn through lectures and guest speakers who have many years' experience in the industry.
The only thing I find frustrating about this program is that you must take labs in a certain order. Because of scheduling, I've only been able to take 1-2 labs per semester. I would not be a full-time student if it weren't for my minor in hospitality, and it's going to take me a total of three years to finish.
For students who wish to continue on to a Bachelor's Degree, Valencia offers a "direct connect" program to the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality where students can get a Bachelors in Hospitality Management.
Overall, Valencia's culinary arts program has definitely taught me a lot and continues to do so. I love that I'm learning almost the equivalent of what more expensive schools are teaching for a small fraction of the cost.