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Richland Community College (Decatur, IL)

post #1 of 2
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   I was wondering if anyone has attended the culinary program at Richland and could give me some input, or just their opinion on culinary programs offered by community colleges and their worth.


   I've been cooking at Cracker Barrel for 2 years and I'm starting to consider cooking as a career, but I can't afford to attend a big name school. I've thought about applying at a local restaurant that cooks REAL food and just learning on the job, but going to school seems like it would teach me more faster and possibly open up more opportunities for me.

post #2 of 2

I don't know of the Richland program, but I'm attending school at Valencia College in Orlando, FL and I'm very pleased with it. I'm majoring in the baking and pastry program for now, but will be double-majoring in both culinary and pastry next semester. Unfortunately, I had been accepted to JWU in Miami last fall and was excited to attend, and then my admission was revoked on the basis of my minor disability. Truthfully, if I hadn't spent all of my first semester at Valencia comparing every single thing with the experience that a private school would've been, I would've enjoyed it a lot more.


Culinary programs at community colleges are not created equal, but I can tell you that students at my school learn probably just as much as students at bigger schools. Labs here are only once a week, but I find that being able to create something once at school and then continue to practice it at home gives me a better grasp on the lesson. I also think that having labs a week apart helps me to better absorb each lecture and understand the theory behind it, instead of having a bunch of information thrown at me all at once. I'm only in my second semester so I don't know too much about the upper level classes, but I can say that past students have gone on to some of the top jobs in the industry. Just like anywhere else, you get out of it what you put into it. Those who work a little harder to get their foot in the door are usually rewarded.


I'm really satisfied with the program here, and believe me, I never thought I would say that. I've learned so much in the short time I've been here from chef instructors that I respect very much. On a financial note, I have yet to pay a dime for my education thanks to FAFSA and some other Florida scholarships. Knowing that I won't have any debt when I graduate is awesome.


I definitely recommend community college programs with good reputations (research research research!), and I wish it wouldn't have taken me this long to feel that way. Surprisingly, private culinary schools aren't everything. Best of luck to you!

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