I did not go to NECI, but I did go on the tour and spoke with many of the students currently attending. I am also a career changer and I am working as a line cook. From what I saw, NECI is really a good school. The classes are small, the Chef Instructors seem to be really passionate about what they are doing. Also there are lots of clubs you can get involved with after class. The overall atmosphere was wonderful. I'm not completely sure about the Pastry Arts Program, but I know the Culinary Arts Program is broken up into two locations. The first six months is done in Montpelier, then you do a six month internship. You need to do the leg work in locating where you want to intern. They have many you can choose from all over the country. Just so you know, not all internships will pay. That is why you need to make sure you make your needs known to any prospective internship sites. Then after your successful completion of your internship you come back to Vermont and do your next six months in Essex. Then you go off to do your second six month internship. I wanted to go so badly, but for me at the end of the day, I just couldn't afford it. NECI is a bit pricey, (Approx.58K),that was the only down side for me, but you are getting a really good education and with two internships you stand a good chance to network. For me, I want to go into business for myself. I enjoy working in a restaurant but but eventually I am looking to get into personal or private Chef work. Being that I don't have the experience that many people on these boards have, an NECI education will add lots of credibility to my resume. But for now, I'll just keep plugging away and see what happens. I hope this helps you a bit and I wish you lots of luck on your new path.