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