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J&W or CIA... any current students have input?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hi, my name is Rachel and I am a senior at Delcastle Technical High School. I am about to graduate and make the transition from high school to college. I have decided to continue my culinary education, and attend one of the many various institutions, in the US. The only problem I have is deciding between my top two choices. I am really considering attending The Culinary Institute of America, although my second choice, Johnson and Wales University, in Providence, Rhode Island, has offered me a great deal, to cover the cost of tuition, my first choice college has less to offer me with the cost of tuition. I need your help, in your opinion, which college do you think is a wiser investment?

Thank you for your help and guidance as I embark on this next chapter of my life!
post #2 of 18
If Johnson and Wales is giving you a good deal on tuition, I would say take it. Quite honestly, I don't believe there is much difference between any of the top culinary schools. Everyone teaches the basics and will have the resources for you to take it as far as you want.

Bottom your money because you will need it later.
post #3 of 18
Current JWU student right here.

They will both teach you the things you need to know. What will really determine what you get out of school is how much you put in. You could very easily get all A's and B's having never worked in a kitchen or having picked up a knife, but if you want to be truly excellent, you need to do the extra stuff. Both schools will offer this in the form of after school activities and Junior ACF, its up to you whether or not you follow through.

That being said, I was one of the students who got the most for their money at JWU. If you just drag your heels through school you will not enjoy it, but I made it a point to be the best I could and to do the extra things.

My school year here at JWU ends in 8 days and I would describe it as the best experience of my life.
post #4 of 18
Take best deal, they are almost all the same. Most important thing to remember, no matter what school, it all depends on YOU. Become a human sponge. Absorb as much as you can, read read read, ask questions, most important NEVER say I cant(how do you know you cant unless you try)? good luck...:D
post #5 of 18

Student at the CIA

Financial Aid is an important aspect of any college. However, an excellent education is much more important. The Culinary Institute of America does offer lots of financial aid, (and once you are here the financial aid office will always help you find more) so it isn’t fair to compare a college only by the amount of money they will give you. Regardless of what others say, culinary schools are not all the same. They are different like any other specialty college. Here are a few key points to consider…

Reputation – The CIA is widely recognized as a leader in culinary education. They have upwards of 37,000 alumni to network with! That is something no other culinary school can say. Also, the school offers four career fairs annually, as well as lifetime career placement. This means that whether you are researching your required externship site, or a permanent employer, CIA grads are both recognized and respected in the industry.

Kitchen Time – The school also offers more then 1,300 hours of hands on experience in the classroom! I can’t think of any other college that can give you this much time in the kitchen, actually working with the tools of your trade. Also, the CIA offers degrees in the Culinary Arts and the Baking and Pastry Arts. They are very focused in their degree programs. Also, the CIA offers more Master Chefs and Master Bakers then any other college.

Degree – I’m currently a student in the Bachelor program at the college. It is important to have a four year degree not only in this job market, but in this economy as well. The Culinary Institute of America offers a Bachelor degree for both the culinary and baking programs. They even offer a collaborative degree program with Cornell, should you decide to continue your education there.

Well I can quote you statistics and facts all day. In the end, the decision is up to you. You shouldn’t listen to someone who tells you to take the best financial offer and run with it. This is your future, and you shouldn’t base your career on which education is cheapest, but rather which education is the best. I suggest taking time to visit both campuses, and then making your decision later. The CIA offers tours of the school so you can see first hand the facilities we have to offer. You can also enjoy dinner at one of our restaurants, or even a bite at the café, to see the product the school produces. I hope this has been of some help to you, and good luck!
post #6 of 18
A caveat: this borders suspiciously on spam. With the exception of a discrepancy in the specific amount of alumni to network with, J & W is completely on par with CIA in every area. The difference in the alumni thing is more likely in J & W's favor. With 4 campuses running, I don't see how CIA can compete in that area.
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #7 of 18
J&W is quickly pulling ahead of CIA in many regards. The one thing that CIA has going for it is a sort of posh reputation, being more like the "old guard" they are the Harvard of American culinary schools with an image that is almost totally self perpetuating.
post #8 of 18
I am not for or against any school. I am getting disenchanted with some of the guys from CIA. Not the girls, the guys. This past summer we had a few of them from their Externship program,. 2 or 3 will not be invited back ,In fact I tell it like it is 1 or 2 of them asked me what they should do after graduation. I told them take courses somewhere in business administration(Think they got the hint) Again a school is only as good as the students. One in particular told us he made all the consomme for his class. I asked him how he made it He told me to clarify the stock with Vegetables and Bouquet Garni and boil it at 112 degrees then skim it????? If this is what school produces, and this is what represents it forgetaboutit. Again this is only 1 thing from 1 student but there were more. For upward of $40,000.00 Go work in Europe its cheaper.:eek:

PS Students I had years ago were much better, no offense or disespect intended.
post #9 of 18
I laughed pretty hard there...

If you ever need a competent intern, look me up. Now I am off to figure out what elevation/atmospheric pressure would be needed to boil at 112 degrees.

post #10 of 18
Schools are lowering standards while raising prices. Private education is a business after all and they are trying to acquire more 'customers' in the form of paying students. I've never been one for conspiracy theories, however I believe there has been an effort on the part of most colleges, universities and businesses to establish a 4 year degree as the minimum for most jobs. Years ago a high school diploma could suffice but that is not the case any longer. This causes everyone to go off to college and collect massive amounts of debt.

If I could quote "Good Will Hunting", "You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library."

ps: Remember, there aren't less good students, just more bad ones.
post #11 of 18
Hey, I don't want to add fuel to the fire but I have to say this conversation is incredibly one sided. Sure that last post did seem a little spamish, but they did quote a lot of facts that I haven't seen from J&W yet. Also, one could make the argument that the schools tuition rates are similar for any program. I am actually a student at the CIA and I know that the school had actually paid for 1/4 of my tuition. That doesn't even include scholarships; that includes grants that I have recieved. With scholarships and loans I had no problem getting together enough money. Why would someone settle for a school that teaches the same thing when they can have a school that teaches the same, and has a better reputation? No offense to J&W, but you can take your good will hunting logic and apply it to culinary schools.... Rent Harold McGee and Joy of Cooking at your local libray and you can learn everything you need to set foot in a kitchen. To some, haveing an expensive degree is like a waranty. So, being that my CIA tuition is probably 15 grand more expensive than J&W, I feel confident that I will have a better chance getting a job in this crappy economy thanks to the help of my schools oustanding kitchen cred.
post #12 of 18
Oh and to make it seem like I'm not simply siding with the CIA, I do have a big problem with some of the academic courses at the college. Mainly that the school has a habit of placing chefs, and not instructors, into their academic classes. I have a hard time learning about finance and business from a man who spent his entire life cooking, and probably earned less of a degree than myself. So that being said, the kitchen courses are awesome, but the academic courses leave much to be desired until you reach the BPS level.
post #13 of 18
If there were more people like you in this world, I could become a millionaire. I would open chains of stores across the US and Canada sporting all the items anyone could ever want, market it like an upscale pseudo-Wal Mart. Every single item would cost a third more than suggested retail value and people would purchase them happily. They would be filled with false confidence and pride as they sported their fashionably expensive goods.

Too bad its just you though. A word to the wise, the only thing that will help you get a job is your own competence. A CIA degree may get you in the door, but once they figure out what you are really capable of you might as well use that degree as toilet tissue.

I also wouldn't overestimate your school's "kitchen cred", we have seen time and again that they are capable of turning out graduates with poor skills.
post #14 of 18
You know what, I'll give you advice that I once read on another message board.

Save your money. Avoid the diploma factory. Going to school will effectively destroy whatever passion you have and make you unemployable and bitter.
Instead, lie cheat and steal your way into a real kitchen and get a job there. Make up some experience...the fact that you're interested in cooking means you have some previous cooking knowledge.

Lie. Exaggerate. Sell yourself. Be confident. Read some books on cooking techniques and theory. Work your way to the top.

edit: sarcasm BTW, well, sort of :lol:
post #15 of 18
Regardless of what you are told CIA and the other schools are profit making. I taught culinary in the NYC High School System and even they were profit making, because we did catering for all city agencies and charged them cost plus 20%. we had no labor cost.
They are non profit making for tax purposes only.
The reason they use the chef instructors instead of lay proffessors. Is simply because it is CHEAPER.
Once I was asked to fill in for a missing instructor to teach math.
I declined telling them I am not qualified or licensed to do so. Thats what the insructors there should do. Everyone to their own.;)
post #16 of 18
With all due respect, as a culinary student your perspective on the industry is based totally on what you've been taught, not on what you've actually seen. I don't think you're in any position to argue with a working chef, who actually makes hiring decisions, about the value of a CIA education.

My head chef, who is a CIA graduate by the way, considers his diploma to be little more than a piece of paper and is reluctant to hire culinary school grads because of the sense of entitlement and know-it-all attitude they come out of school with. I don't think it's entirely the student's fault; these schools make a lot of money stroking people's egos and selling them unrealistic dreams of becoming a sous chef before they've ever washed a dish.

Long story short, like everyone else who actually works in the industry, I strongly recommend the education option which will incur the least debt and to focus on getting actual work experience.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 


Hello again,:D

I would like to thank everyone who replied to my posted thread. You have been very honest and have given me wonderful insight. You have not only answered the big question for me, yet also given me insight, on a few doubts, I acquired about the institutions. Your knowledge is just what I needed to help me move forward, and hopefully make the better choice. I completely understand that this is up to me, and the effort I put into my career, is what will make me, or break me. I also know that I do not want to carry around a huge debt after college. Both are adequate institutions, and though they do not vary much with inital cost, I think I will go where the money is, because I know I want this, and I will do what it takes to make it happen.:look:

So again, thank you all so much, and have an excellent day!:smiles:
post #18 of 18
Good luck and welcome to the JWU family.
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