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certificate choices

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
i am at a crossroads. after all my reading of the many, many, many fourms here, i finally registered so i can try to get a little help. i am ready to apply for culinary school and am stuck - can any of you chefs out there help me? i am debating on whether a certificate is good enough for a good job after i gain all my experience? i am leaning away from and AOS only because i have already been through a four year college, plus i dont want to build up anymore debt with loans. my school choices have been narrowed down to NECI, WCI, FCI, and OCI. i am leaning away from FCI because, sadly, i think the cost of living in NY is going to be more than i can afford. i am leaning away from WCI now becasue i have been hearing some horrible reviews of the school from past students lately! so that leaves me with NECI and OCI (it was getting better reviews than WCI). NECI would be where i go if i get an AOS, but i would go to OCI for a certificate since i would have to do two seperate programs at NECI. the move for me from texas to either of the schools would be about the same and i think the cost of living in either oregon or vermont will be more reasonable for my budget than new york. mainly, i am just looking for some feedback about the two schools (sicne OCI is so new) and on if a certificate is good enough? i think it is but i am hoping for some professional opinions.

ilse
post #2 of 13

Welcome

I do not know much but I have posted some similar question. I live in dallas and contemplated on a career change in the future. I have been advised to check out community colleges such as collin county or el centro. I am not sure where you are exactly. Since I already have a 6 yr professional degree, I don't want any more filler courses or loans.

I would get my feet wet in some community college and get experience at a good restaurant where they make everything from scratch. I love to bake so I would go where they make their bake goods from scratch and decide if i won't to make a move out to state. Just my opinion.:)
I also wanted to go to FCI but I am no position to leave my young kids (also how do I survive in such a big city!)

Good luck!
vale
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vale
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post #3 of 13
First of all I don't think it matters what kind of degree you are going to get. Completing or going to culinary school is what matters and only to those who care. Unless you plan on pursuing a careeer abroad where those thing matter more. I had a BA also before I went, now I am looking at getting my MA. No one has ever asked about my AOS, so I just chalk it up as life experience.

I went to NECI, Essex, and after entering the workforce I felt far more prepared for the realities of working in the industry then graduates from other schools. As I now employ graduates from other schools, I am shocked at what they didn't experience or learn. You are always cooking for real people, either for students as in (200) in the cafeteria, your first quarter, or casual restaurant the second, or fine dining your second. Or banquets and weddings or cakes and pastries for a downtown coffeeshop. And these aren't your typical student restaurants. They are very public, and very popular. In fact one crticism I had of the school, as a student was that it felt like more emphasis was put on running the restaurants then teaching us, as far as demand, work load, and pace.

Classes are small, and students do ALL the work. This is a much more realistic setting when most lines are small in the real world.

There was a very high level of work be demanded and taught, as well as broad subjects from sushi, to vegan food, to french classics, artisan breads, sugar pulling, . Not to mention food cost and basic business skills were drilled into us. Something that has benefitted me more than anything else.

Most professors were awesome and willing to work with you on a project that your were interested in all the more better if it was unique or challenging.

Their internship and job placement program is also fantastic. Their job fair is well tended by some big names. Also with so much intimate exposure to so many chefs, some from abroad networking opportunities are great.

Vermont itself is a great place to be, if you can handle the snow. For a small town, it is has quite a bit of culture. Several fine dining restaruants. They take the concept of local seriously and I never found a greater concentration of small dairies, bakeries, farmers, etc.... Also it is a 4 hour drive to Boston, 6-NY, and 1 hr to Montreal.
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
thanks pastrycake and breton beats for your replies!

pastrycake - i have looked into the comm colleges here, but unforutnely they dont have those kind of cooking programs. so either way i will have to move to go to school (and both the schools im looking at are far away no matter waht). i am free to move so its not a problem, i just cant go to a school like FCI unfortunately becuase of the cost of living in nyc.

breton beats - thank you so much for your comments as an NECI alumni, i was really hoping to hear from someone who actually went to either NECI or OCI! you said you got an AOS, did you get that NECI or somewhere else? i am really looking at NECI for the AOS prorgam, but if a certificate can get me a comparable job starting out (since i know the more experience i have the better off i will be in the long run), then i will get the certificate since it will get me out working faster plus it is cheaper. i am really very interested in NECI for all the reasons you named (location, hands on-ness, school and local plcaes to work, etc), but i just wondering if the AOS program is really what i need since i will have to take out big loans to do that program. i had thought about just doing the NECI two baking and pastry certificate programs (since it is still cheaper than the AOS) mainly because i really would like to do an externship through teh school, but OCI does offer the baking and pastry together as one and that is appealing as well. i am mainly just trying to figure out if i reaaally need the AOS or if a certificate would be good enough. if you have a chance, id love to hear what you think of takin gthe baking and pastry certificate programs from NECI insetad of the AOS program.

i am still hoping to hear from somoene who has either been a student or taught at OCI for what they thought of the school. i just really want to try to get comments straight from those who've been there for the two schools if i can since i knwo the schools all will tell me they are wonderful since it is the line they give to draw in new students.

ilse
post #5 of 13
When I went they only had the AOS Culinary it was before the pastry program and before certificate programs. So I can't speak on content. I think that if money wasn't the issue (because bad side to NECI is the cost) then the more education and more well-rounded you are the better prepared you will be. But be forewarned that no matter how good of a culinary school you go to the earning wage is the same after you graduate.
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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post #6 of 13

culinary school hopeful

HI,
My name is Eudora.
I want to go through the certificate program at Dallas Art Institute.
What types of job placement can I expect?
I do love cooking and have worked in resturants before.
I desire my own cafe.

Please help.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
thanks breton beats! i have plenty to think about, figuring out what program is right for me, but i am definitely still looking at NECI! i really appreciate your comments, it certainly is nice to hear from an alumni! good luck in all you're doing!

ilse
post #8 of 13
I was looking at FCI as well, but with my dog not being able to come with me I decided against it. I do know they have a low student to teacher ratio. I live in Colorado and decided to attend the school a little closer to home. I just started this week at the Culinary School of the Rockies and am already very satisfied with my choice. The student to teacher ration will be no higher than 8:1. For my class it is about 6:1. To instructors per class. They are nationally accredited. If you have any interest in being green and sustaining local farmers this would be the school to look at. Good luck.
post #9 of 13
Hello ilse,
Please let me know if I can be of any help.
I am the Executive Chef at the New England Culinary Institue.

Mark Molinaro C.E.C.
Executive Chef
New England Culinary Institute
56 College Street

Montpelier, VT 05602
802.225.3220
markmolinaro@neci.edu
Mark Molinaro C.E.C.Executive ChefNew England Culinary Institute56 College StreetMontpelier, VT 05602802.225.3220markmolinaro@neci.edu
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Mark Molinaro C.E.C.Executive ChefNew England Culinary Institute56 College StreetMontpelier, VT 05602802.225.3220markmolinaro@neci.edu
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post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Mark, wow, thanks so much for offering that! I appreciate it so much! I am having a busy week, but I will get back with a few questions this weekend. It will be really nice to hear specifically from someone who works at NECI. Thanks again, much appreciated!

ilse
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
hi Mark, again, thanks so much for offering to answer some questions! well, for me, i am looking into the baking and pastry classes only. i am not sure if this is an area that you are worknig in or not, but any thoughts would be helpful. while i am not fully opposed to getting the associates degree in baking and pastry arts, i would actually rather not. i have already gotten my bachelors in a non-food industry, and from what ive heard from others and in my research a degree is not necessarily better than just a certificate program when i go looking for a job right out of school. so i am looking at taking the NECI separate baking and pastry certificates instead of hte associates. what do you think of that? for me, it is partially because even taking the two certificate courses it would be half of the price of the associates program, meaning less loans to take out. another reason is that i will be out of school faster and be back wroking faster, which is good because it will be hard for me to stop working (or cut back on work) while in school. so i guess, i would like to know your thoughts on a certificate vs. degree and also what you think of the baking and pastry certificate programs at NECI. any thoughts would be great when you get a chance! again, thanks so much for offering your help!

ilse
post #12 of 13
Hello Ilse,

Generally speaking, the certificate in either culinary, baking or pastry arts is a good choice for individuals looking at gaining entry level experience at a very specific skill set. I suggest when considering the level of education that you need that you "keep the end in mind". There are plenty of ways to get there! What is your dream? What are you hoping to gain from going to school? When choosing a school, I would recommend getting plenty of detail about what you are going to get out of the experience. Also, factor in what the relationship with the school is after you have completed the program.

As for me, I had a BA in Anthropology/Philosophy before I attended culinary school. I took the AOS culianry program at NECI and it was worth every shiny penny! I only wish they had offered the BA in Culinary back then... My previous BA degree still propelled me further/faster.

An accredited AOS does have more "heft" then a certificate in the industry simply because of the level of content. We are finding that because there are so many AOS graduates in the industry, our Bachelors of Arts in both Hospitality and Culinary are taking off. Again, it goes back to content. What are you looking for and what skills/experiences do you need to take you there at your desired pace.

Chef Dan Tabor, the dean of the Baking and Pastry program dantabor@neci.edu would be a great resource to find out some of the details of our programs. I would also encourage you to look at other schools and see how they do it. NECI is excellent at delivering hands-on, standards-based training with small classes in live kitches. And by live I mean that students in our AOS B&P class prepare breakfast and lunch pastries for 900-1500 people 5 days a week.

I totally hear you when you say that you want to stay out in the work force. Here I would say to look at your education as an investment. I would absolutely recommend doing the math to see what the cost/benefit is.

Sorry I didn't give such a "straight" answer, but culinary school is expensive in so many ways: time, $$$, energy. My recommendation is to try and nail down some of your goals and dreams and work backwards from there on which path to take.

I am very excited for you!

Be great!
Mark Molinaro C.E.C.Executive ChefNew England Culinary Institute56 College StreetMontpelier, VT 05602802.225.3220markmolinaro@neci.edu
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Mark Molinaro C.E.C.Executive ChefNew England Culinary Institute56 College StreetMontpelier, VT 05602802.225.3220markmolinaro@neci.edu
Reply
post #13 of 13
Chef,

Thank you for sharing your wisdom with our culinary students. Congratulations of your earning your CEC.
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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