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Questions to ask when looking at schools

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I'm going for an interview at Orlando Culinary Academy this weekend. I just wondered if you could share some questions you would ask them....or questions you wish you had asked when you were looking at schools. Thanks!

catmaiden
post #2 of 17
Factors to Consider

Just going to culinary school does not guarantee a great career. Whatever you do, don’t go through 2-4 years of school without working. Those who have done this are usually unprepared for the demands of the kitchen and are likely to leave the industry.

It is best if you can do both. Many schools have schedules that allow for full or part-time work. If you cannot work in the industry while in school, be sure to work during summers and holiday breaks. You can also look into apprenticeship programs that combine work and school, your local American Culinary Federation (ACF) chapter (www.acfchefs.org) can provide you with that information.


Certificate programs are generally shorter than degree programs and will prepare you for the job market quickly. Associates degree programs take 2 years of study, Bachelors programs 4 years and Masters programs can take up to 6 years.

If you want a less academically rigorous program, get your hands-on skills as fast as possible with a certificate program and start working. If you and/or your parents feel a degree is important but you want to get into the industry soon, consider an Associate’s degree. If you like to study and may want to go into management, go for a Bachelor’s degree. If you want to teach at most high schools or accredited colleges, you’ll need a Master’s. Some people looking to eventually own and operate their own restaurants pursue a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.

Here are some important questions to keep in mind when considering culinary schools. If you can ask these questions of each of the schools you are considering, you will be well prepared when it comes time to make a decision. Remember there are no right or wrong answers since each school is unique and tailored to a specific type of student.

Compare courses at the schools you are considering

Does the school focus on hands-on training or academic classes?

What is the student/faculty ratio?

What is the average age of the student body?

As part of your education, does the school provide an externship?

Is the school in an area where you can easily find part-time kitchen work?

What types of jobs do graduates get?

What is the job placement rate for graduates?

Can the school give you the name and phone number of a recent graduate or
current student to interview?

Is the school far from home? Can you manage the travel expenses?

Will you like the local climate?

Compare housing costs and other expenses.






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post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks!

Thanks for the question ideas. Believe me, I have no illusions of grandeur while attending school or after coming out of school. My best friend attended culinary school...she worked her butt off. I understand the work and study and sacrifice it involves, not to mention the expense. After reading and researching this week, I have decided to take your advice (and others') and try to obtain part-time work in the industry before I fully commit that much money to school that may or may not help me.

I do understand that school, whether community college or Johnson and Wales, is what you take from it and your success (or lack thereof) depends upon your attitude and effort when you get out. I don't expect to have anything handed to me just because I went to school.

It just worries me a bit that Le Cordon Bleu schools don't seem to have the reputation for a good education I thought they would (as opposed to, say, NECI), on these forums anyway, and it is the only culinary school in my area that is do-able right now. I get the impression from reading these boards that all they are interested in is your $$ and not a quality education. I wish there was more feedback on LCB schools than I've been able to find.

I fully expect to have smoke and mirrors thown at me in this interview in order for them to receive 40K from me, and I wanted to be prepared for that and hopefully see through it instead of just wanting to sign up right then and there....thus the request for questions. They helped a lot! Thanks again.

catmaiden
post #4 of 17
I interviewd at LCB Orlando Culinary....it was one of the worst things I've seen while reseraching schools. I asked the rep. questions like the ones that are listed in this thread and she couldn't give me an answer. All she dwelled on was that the facility was new and so high tech. She didn't have class ratios or anything of the like. IMO I don't think it's worth the 40 grand. I decided on NECI a better learning environment...you're in REAL kitchens learning.

Hope everything works out for ya mate.
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When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun.
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post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Re:

Thanks Tytitan....that just reinforces everything I've been reading here about LCB schools.....almost makes me wish I'd never called them! Tomorrow should be interesting. Sad thing is I'm a homeowner and married, so traveling to a distant school isn't an option right now much as I'd love to. I'm the only one working and we're barely keeping our head above water now. Pretty depressing that it's LCB or nothing at this point...I'll probably opt for nothing and just try to find work to get experience. Thanks again!

catmaiden
post #6 of 17
Catmaiden, I just registered on this site. Have you made a decision on culinary school? I just wanted to tell you I've heard a lot of bad things about LCB also. I actually paid to apply at an LCB school and decided they weren't worth my time or money. From what I understand all the LCB schools are run the same way, and they don't sound good.

I've also been told by chefs and other people that $40 grand is way too much to spend on a culinary education at any school. The advice I'm always getting is to find a community college with a good program and reputation and save your money. That's I'm going to do. I have one school in particular that I'm very interested in and if everthing goes well, I'll be starting there in January. Is there a community college near you that you can check out?

Do you plan on working at your current job while going to school? If not, it might make it easier for you to go to school away from where you currently live if you can sell your house and move into an apartment near school. You might be able to pay for a cheaper school and your housing. Would your family be willing to do this?.

And I agree with working in the field before you even spend money on school to find out if it's really what you want to do, and also to get some experience.

But my main advice is stay away from the expensive schools.
post #7 of 17
They are run the same way because all follow the same curiculum. It's a Le Cordon Bleu diploma you get, so it's structured a certain way. As for the money, Le Cordon Bleu isn't the highest. Check out Johnson & Wales, CIA, etc and see how much they are.
post #8 of 17
catmaiden-

I don't mean to beat a dead horse here, but I crossed LCB Orlando off my list early on in my school searching process. After I was told many of the admissions reps follow scripts, plus I just couldn't justify the high cost. When I had my phone interview with them (and hour long!), I was certainly an "ideal candidate" and I would be recommended for enrollment (I read where over 90% of applicants get accepted, so I figure if you're breathing and have reasonable intelligience, most will be "recommended"). I'm sure LCB gives a good and rounded education and don't mean to downplay their curriculum, but I chose another college in Orlando which suited me perfectly, had a similar program, and was more realistic cost-wise. And I'm very excited to begin in August.

BTW-Have you checked out Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm, or do you need to stay in Orlando?
post #9 of 17
I really don't understand why everyone has to bash LCB so much. Most large institutions, universities, etc cost 30-40 thousand dollars or more to attend. I understand LCB here in the states is something new, but they are partnered with LCB Paris, so give it some credit. The school down here in Miami has gorgeous facilities and great cheff instructors. The students love the school, and enjoy being there. Attending such programs isn't for everyone, but don't make it seem like LCB has the worst training possible.
post #10 of 17
To clarify my point, I'm not bashing LCB's curriculum or instructors at all. Le Corden Bleu has a really good program and I've talked with many students who certainly enjoy it, I just feel there are other options out there, and don't decide by "reputation" alone. That's all. I truly feel if you are passionate about the culinary craft and artistry (and dedicated), you will shine no matter which school you've graduated from. Trivia fact: one of Food&Wine's top ten chefs of 2004 hails from South Seattle Community College. :)
post #11 of 17
I agree with youthat you will shine no matter which school you've graduated from if you are passionate about the craft. It's just that all I see is LCB bashing. Like any other school, it has it's good and bad points. But it just seems that on this forum, all people do is make LCB look like a total rip off, which they aren't.
post #12 of 17
LCB affiliate schools are all different, regardless of set curriculum. You really can't make a blanket statement (good or bad) regarding them all. The one here used to be good, but has gone downhill. From what I've heard, there's a good one in Chicago, though. One thing to do regarding any school is to speak with local chefs and get their impressions of graduates of the schools you're looking at.
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post #13 of 17
hi everyone first post just found this site.
i found nothing wrong with OCA i start July 5TH and really look foward to it
everyone there was very helpful with the whole process
post #14 of 17
That's great. Glad you found the school to be a good fit for you, and I'm sure you'll do well. Good luck! See you around Orlando.
post #15 of 17
I go to LCB Las Vegas.

For every culinary school and program comes a variety of slams and opinion. I like my school a great deal, but there are certainly aspects I do not like. For instance the acceptance process. We have a high drop out rate... like most other culinary schools I'm sure, but it pisses me off that I have to sit next to a bunch of hooligans who don't want to be there. BUT - those people do drop out and classes become more intimate. My classmates and I are really supportive of each other and we lean on each other for support. I hear so many different opinions from everyone about what school is better, but in the end - everyone has to find their own place. The factors are of course where you want to be and how much you're willing to pay. None of us can get caught up in reputation. It's too contradicting and subjective.

If you're in it for real then you'll continue to do what you do regardless of where you are. Spend your money where you want to be and ignore everyone's comments. If you go somewhere because of someone else's opinion or turn down a place for the same reason, you could be making a mistake.

I can't speak on behalf of LCB, like I stated - I like it. I make the most of my education and I'm going to get my money's worth. When I get out, the school isn't going to be the "trait" that carries me. It's going to be my passion and craft. Aspiring chefs do not need babying. We are independent people who know what we want to do and we honor the craft. (at least we should) There's a level of pomposity everywhere in this field, you won't get rid of it. Ask people you trust and invest your energy into finding what's right for you. Good luck!

Anyone can bash LCB all they want... no big deal. That doesn't mean I won't be good at what I do. Peace
post #16 of 17

Excellent

You make excellent points. I honestly hope I didn't come off too abrasive in my thoughts regarding LCB, or those-type schools in general. I just have basic thoughts regarding culinary schools that are a business, and culinary schools that are more academic schools (if that makes sense). Fine skills are taught regardless. I'm extremely happy with my school choice in Orlando. In fact, we even use several of the LCB textbooks!

Best to you, and thanks.

S.
post #17 of 17
I'm definetly not offended, no harm.

I actually like the business aspect a little more then other classes. And the professionalism they try to enforce here is excellent. Best of luck to you!
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