New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Re-thinking Culinary School

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I'm currently in my first semester at Baltimore International College (BIC). I love my lab and my classmates but I don't feel like I'm being challenged enough in my required sit-down classes (i.e. Nutrition, Culinary Supervision, etc). I graduated from a traditional four-year university with two BAs in Social Science and Humanities, so that probably adds to why I don't feel challenged.

Because I only plan on getting an associate's degree in cooking and baking, I'm not sure going to a culinary school is a good investment; I've talked to a couple of culinary students and culinary school graduates advising me to try my hand over at a community college because of the cost benefits as well as the same learning experience I'd get at a culinary school.

So I'm asking the board for advice/opinions: Are these feelings normal for someone re-entering school after graduating from a university? If I'm already feeling like this about culinary school, should I stop attending the next semester and go to a community college instead to pursue my associate's instead? Should I apply to a different culinary school if perhaps BIC is not the right fit for me? Also, out of curiousity, how is the layout of a semester of culinary school supposed to be? At BIC, the semester is 15 weeks, with some classes only being 5 weeks (mostly lab classes).

I look forward to everyone's responses!

post #2 of 17
my first reaction is to tell you to go to J&W or CIA.
you could also get more involoved with cooking/baking by offering to take on extra work at the school. ask to stage at a local establishment to feed your mind while taking the labs.
hope this helps!
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
Reply
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
Reply
post #3 of 17
caex-
I'm not sure how all culinary schools are- but I know mine is so casual. (I attend a small, private academy) I too was expecting some rigorous study like typical college. My school doesn't even give homework (other than go to a restaurant for FOH observation, or the like..). I would imagine a University to be much more expensive, and that for the education, your local might be more cost-effective. Perhaps you need to visit the other school(s) and see their classes/labs for yourself. From what I have seen though, culinary training is a whole different animal (for lack of a better word) than other college majors- you don't train the same for it. Also as much experience outside the classroom, even if in your own kitchen, as you can gain, the better. Unlike other areas of study, where the certificate on the wall makes you qualified for the job; culinary -it is based on your personal talents/performance. Good luck!
Bon Vive' !
Reply
Bon Vive' !
Reply
post #4 of 17
In my five quarters of culinary school, I have been challenged my first, second, and now my current quarter. I also did not feel challenged and will be attending a community college for an undergraduate degree. I will be entering the field of food science later on. As for now, I'm taking baking and pastry, and I feel that the lab itself is extra challenging.

I believe that the challenge rests entirely with the instructor.
post #5 of 17
I was in a similar position as you. I have a BS degree and almost 10 years in my prior career. I didn't want to go to a culinary school where it would take 2 years and I'd end up taking classes that were not challenging. I looked at lots of different schools and decided to pursue only those that offered certificate programs. I narrowed it down to CIA Greystone, FCI, and ICE. I ruled out CIA Greystone because my wife would have a hard/impossible time finding a job in her career field in Napa Valley and we didn't want to commute to/from the Bay Area. That left me with FCI and ICE, both in NYC. I toured both schools and sat in on classes. I liked ICE the best and decided to enroll in both their Pastry & Baking Arts and Culinary Management programs. It'll take 7 months and is costing me a lot less than 2 years at CIA or J&W. Plus, I avoid having to take Culinary Math and the like. I'm a little more than halfway through and, overall, have enjoyed the programs and would recommend the school. Best of luck. Sean
Whatshisname
Sean
Reply
Whatshisname
Sean
Reply
post #6 of 17
What I ment to say is tour CIA and J&W, now I should add to the list FCI and ICE.
There are always master classes you can pick up all over.
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
Reply
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
Reply
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
I'd love to just so I wouldn't feel like I'm doing the equivalent of an hs courseload! However, the way BIC has it set up is that if you're a first semester student, they assign your class schedule. I'm pretty much in class from 9-5 pm, M-F. Any classes after 5 PM and it's the night-time students, which I am not.

I will most likely do that since my lab is only just trying to familiarize my class with an industry-type kitchen. Once I'm finally settled down in Baltimore, I'll start asking to speak to managers about staging.
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Whatshisname,

I wish I had done my research more about choosing a culinary school that would've been a right fit for my education level and age! I'm not worried about the money situation too much, but I don't like feeling like I'm "wasting my time."

I'm trying to stay around the mid-Atlantic area (DC, Baltimore, Northern Virginia) due to the fact I'm attached with a fiance out here. There's at the most three schools that appeal to me - Stratford, L'Academie, and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. However, it definitely makes a world of difference to see the school and how the classroom is like - something I didn't have to worry about when I attended my alma mater.
post #9 of 17
How about having a discussion with the instructors and perhaps the dean?
Bet they'd want to know how better to serve their students!
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
Reply
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
Reply
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
m_brown,

I was actually thinking I should take that course of action, in addition to talking to my counselor, about my concerns regarding the work load. I better make the most of my lab time while I still can.
post #11 of 17
You know, this whole culinary program is going to rake in the bucks for me someday. My big dream is going to school for "culinology," or food science. I may or may not love it. But if I do, having a culinary background means mucho money.
post #12 of 17
I am in my 7th quarter of culinary school. This would be my last quarter for the associates program, but I am only taking 4 classes a week. So it will take me a few more quarters.

Most of my friends in school entered culinary school when they already had a degree in some other field. They seem to be enjoying it.

I attend the Art Institute of Colorado and our quarters (we don't do semesters) are usually 10-11 weeks long. We get 3 weeks off for summer break and winter break. Inbetween each quarter we get a one week break. Except the spring quarter. I think we get 2 weeks. I can't remember LOL.
post #13 of 17
This opinion/experience is a common issue with many students...
Speaking from an instructor's viewpoint...
The challenge for all instructor's is to make the class beneficial for EVERY student's learning level...
We have to assume that everyone has never seen an "eggplant", or a "pineapple"...
As instructors, it should become very clear who the struggling and the advanced students are...
The best instructors can ammend their curriculum to make the lesson/task challenging for both the struggling and advanced learners...
Should the class not offer this to you, then a meeting with the instructor is necessary...
Should that meeting not reward you with a more challenging learning environment, a trip to the dean is in order...
Should that prove fruitless (pun intended), the director of the program should be seen...
Last step should be with the president of the school...
Most often times, when a student voices a concern about not being challenged, a good instructor can find many ways to make the class more fruitful...(pun intended)...
Best of luck...
Andrew Nutter C.C.C., C.C.E., F.M.P.
Chef Instructor
IUP Academy of Culinary Arts
Punxsutawney, PA 15767
Reply
Andrew Nutter C.C.C., C.C.E., F.M.P.
Chef Instructor
IUP Academy of Culinary Arts
Punxsutawney, PA 15767
Reply
post #14 of 17

It's What You Make Of It

I am also attending culinary school and the concerns of cost vs. reward weighed heavily on me at first. My stomach went into my throat when the executive chef of the school came into class on our first day and began by telling us what we should expect to make or should i say not make after graduating. That hardcore statistics were that 75 percent of su chefs make 35k or less and very few will ever go beyond that. I was in shock to say the least and feared that i had made a grave mistake. After completing my first course my fears were put to rest when i realized that those figures are averages that take everyone into consideration. I can say with confidence that half of the students i am attending classes with are just along for the ride and are only putting forth minimal effort. I am amazed that omeone could invest 40k for one year of culinary school and not have any sense of urgency to apply themselves. Then there are the students who you know are just a class away from dropping out. There are also the average students that do the required work and put forth a modest effort but no matter how hard they try they will always be average. Lastly there are the exceptional students that are few and far between. My point is that if you are there to excel and you have the attitude that anything but graduating in the top percentile is unexceptible then the investment is worth it. It's in the best interest of the school to assist their top students in placement with the premiere externships and the premiere jobs. LeCordon Bleu only allows the top students to interview for the small handful of ultra elite placements that are available.
post #15 of 17
Anyone coming out of culinary school has no business being a sous chef or a chef anywhere. Period. (Unless that person has a lot of experience before going to school).

If you are in cooking for the money get out. Seriously.
post #16 of 17

Good or Bad

My only advice to you is to know if you really like cooking or the field you are with now.. No matter how good is the school you're into and best teacher you will have, if your interest isn't there then somehow you will still feel the same..
US Culinary Schools Directory Information
http://www.iculinary-schools.com

Culinary Thoughts - A brilliant guide to good cooking.
http://thoughts.iculinary-schools.com
Reply
US Culinary Schools Directory Information
http://www.iculinary-schools.com

Culinary Thoughts - A brilliant guide to good cooking.
http://thoughts.iculinary-schools.com
Reply
post #17 of 17

Completely understand the feeling...

I had the same feelings when I went to culinary school. I have graduate degree in Engineering and went back to school after spending a few years working in the energy industry. You might try and see if your school allows you to place out of some of these courses. I went to NECI, and the students were not offered options for placing out of the academic courses at that time. I chose to use that time to tutor my block mates to help ease that feeling of wasted time and it helped a little.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home