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Should i cut my Losses?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I just found this website today. Hopefully I can get some applicable advice from people who have similar passions. I just finished 2 semesters at an expensive culinary school. MY initial plan was to do 4 years here but as the loans are compiling , the 2 year program seems to be all I can stomach. My parents are trying to convince me to go to community college for culinary but I want to stick with the best for as long as I can. I don't know if that makes me stuck up or not. Even attempting to finish at least for the associates degree appears to be a struggle. Im working now to save for an apartmetnt ot keep from paying to stay in a dorm room.

   I have really no experience in the food service industry other than school and I don't know how to gain more since I have no references get me in the door. what should I do in my situation? Fight my way through expensive school, community college, or join the circus? I would even consider leaving the US if a culinary school is cheaper. It feels like  the rich people don't have to dream so long :/ thanks anyone with some tips.

post #2 of 12

@nutella22 ,

I've been around the culinary field for a while and I'm older than dirt. I have found that some of the Culinary programs in Community colleges are equal to or superior to those programs at the more expensive schools. An education is just the beginning of your journey. The experience in the field is what is going to prove to be more useful. I have some Culinary Instructor friends. Most are involved with the local community college. It seems their overall feeling is that the CC is more personable and they are able to teach some of the street smarts to their students.

BUT if I had to do it all over, I would join the circus!!;) Hang in there

Oh, BTW Welcome to ChefTalk. You'll find it's a good place.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #3 of 12


I have taught in Culinary Schools. Believe me their intention is not only to teach but to make money.They have to show a profit.

 I have found some community colleges just as good, if in some cases better then private. No matter what school you attend  it is up to you what you derive out of it.
NO SCHOOL CAN MATCH PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE

CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #4 of 12

HI Nutella

 

In a perfect situation, all culinary schools would enforce that all applicants have a minimum of 1 yr working experience PRIOR to starting school.

 

Then again, in a perfect situation, you wouldn't have culinary schools as we know them, you would have the European style apprenticeship system.

 

And once again, in a perfect situation, you would have a national standard or benchmark for cooks that defines what a cook should know and be capable of doing, of which all European countries have.....

 

 

What you have to understand is that without any prior working experience, in the workplace the culinary grad will get the second lowest job in the kitchen, with the dishwasher giving him/her instruction and supervision.  If that same grad had prior working experience, say pumping out burgers or flipping pizza, the employer would most likely offer them a line position.

 

Thus, you have to acknowledge that working experience is just as important--or some would say even more important--than school.  Problem is, many schools refuse to acknowledge this.  Most schools take your money, pump you with knowledge, and then let you loose on the employer to gain practical working experience.  In a perfect situation you would learn a technique, and repeat it over and over again before going to a new and more elaborate technique, but schools don't like to operate like this.

 

I don't know if any of what I've wrote makes any sense to you, but it will make sense in a year or two .

 

Firstly, don't go into debt because of a culinary school.  Stop the private school now. The hospitality industry is not known for fat salaries and bountiful bennies......

 

Secondly, get into a commercial kitchen right now. Don't need to be choosey, don't need to work full time, but get in a kitchen and start working.  Remember, this is where you will be spending your working life in, not in a school.  It's better now that you find out you don't like it, then forking out 40-60 grand for a piece of paper and then find out you don't like it.  Am I making any sense? 

 

Third, get into a community college program.  School education is still very important.  Remember, school is like a piggy bank:  You only get out what you put in.  Doesn't matter what the pedigree of the school is, remember there is no standard to base a curriculum on.

 

Hope I'm making sense to you and hope this helps  

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #5 of 12

What the others here have said so far is VERY true! CC are just as, if not more so in some places, good as culinary schools. I am going to add here that if you think that going to LCB is going to get you in the door and up the chain faster than someone from a CC then you are sorely mistaken. It is a fallacy in the industry that once you have paid all this money to go to a fancy school then you will be the cream of the crop. I feel for people who do this as I watch them struggle so much afterwards with the realization and stress of large loans to pay off at low pay. Brutal.

 

School is all about teaching and practicing the skills and technique needed in the industry. The rest is up to experience. Where you go to school does NOT matter. Listen to your parents....they are giving you sound advice because they have lived in the real world longer than you....sucks I know but true.

 

To gain more experience in the industry without experience means you will be starting from the bottom. Apply to places for a dishwashing or prep cook job. This is the starting place of all so do it now so you will be getting the proper experience you need. 

 

Listen to the chefs on here giving you the advice of a lifetime!

 

I wish you all the best and welcome to the forum :)

post #6 of 12

I'll second everything the others said. The fancy school doesn't matter. What you bring to my kitchen does. Hard work mostly. 

How to get a job in a kitchen? go apply for one, talk to the chef. Let them know you be dependable, punctual and will do whatever is asked. 

You may start out washing dishes, doing simple prep tasks or making salads. Do it as best you can. Listen to what you are told. Keep working hard. 

School is theory, work is practice. You can learn a lot by continually reading cookbooks as well outside of school. A poor student at a great expensive school is not as valuable as a great student at a community college. And you will learn much on the job no school can teach you. 

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

thank you for the detail. most of it makes sense. Even if I did back out now I don't think I could since I already completed the fafsa for the 2015-2016  school year. Which will leave me approximately 27,000 in loans. I honestly realize now that I made a rash decision because I was at the end of 11th grade and didn't explore all the options. but I will work to get hired in the kitchen. I really want to be a chef and learn all cuisines.

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by nutella22 View Post
 

thank you for the detail. most of it makes sense. Even if I did back out now I don't think I could since I already completed the fafsa for the 2015-2016  school year. Which will leave me approximately 27,000 in loans. I honestly realize now that I made a rash decision because I was at the end of 11th grade and didn't explore all the options. but I will work to get hired in the kitchen. I really want to be a chef and learn all cuisines.

Then why not cut your losses right now and get a kitchen job? I don't think you're obligated to take the 15-16 money even though you're completed the FAFSA process for the school year. While you're gaining experience in a commercial kitchen, re-evaluate your future, including a community college culinary program. It's never too late to (partially) reverse the effect of rash decisions.

post #9 of 12

I agree with SeabeeCook.  Just because you completed the Fafsa doesn't mean you have to take the loans. Go talk to the financial aid people and tell them you're dropping out. You haven't accepted any money yet. DON"T. 

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

I called the school and submitted my withdrawal form. youre right I don't have to pay for the next year. Now all I have is 13k from the winter and spring semester I completed. Thanks  everyone. I will look into cc and work to start saving my money to pay off the few loans. you all gave me the answers I needed to hear

post #11 of 12

That is brilliant nutella22!! Keep us posted on how you get on with a job and community college. Wish ya all the best! :D

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

thanks everyone who helped me in my decision to transfer. I will inform you that i have started my first 2 days at the culinary program in my community college. I didnt really go in with expectations and trying to compare with my first school .  but Some things are a little odd with teaching techniques. I wasnt so impressed with what ive seen so far . i hope it gets better though. even with my transfer credit its still 2 year expected graduation date. if i could get a good restaurant job that would help me so much. Ill try to ride it out for an associate degree but time will tell where my direction is. 

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