I just sent this email to an admissions staffer from the French Culinary Institute here in New York City, thanking she and her colleagues for their time the day of my visit. After I sent it, I realized others who found their way to this forum as I did might find it helpful or insightful. To those of you who I've bumped into around here, consider this a thanks to you as well. My bio outline: NYC-er (CIA location is unworkable, though I considered moving out of state), 31 years old, seeking a career away from my computer all day. ----------- XXXXXXXXXX & Colleagues, First off, I hope this finds you well, and I am sorry it has taken so long for me to write. Among my choices for a culinary education, FCI was my top choice; FCI stands out most for its superior facilities, not the least of which being an on-site restaurant -- a cooking school without a restaurant is like having a football school without a field. The students training in the banquet kitchen while feeding the students training in the restaurant is brilliant. The intensity of the focus found in the eyes of students in the kitchens and halls speaks volumes. I have decided not to pursue a culinary education because none of my choices grant a degree. This was the sticking point. I was ready to find a way to make the time and money work, but I simply can't justify the investment without earning a credential that fills a hole on my résumé. A hard lesson from my twelve years in IT is that I must get The Paper; I'm changing careers now at age thirty one, and I may do so again. I'll be back, certainly at least for a "civilian" course or two. Meanwhile, I've begun studies towards a career in the microculinary arts -- which is to say applied organic chemistry. Apart from being fun (in some similar ways to cooking), it's accredited, highly transferable, increasingly in demand, and with the right connections, maybe one of these days I'll make Wiley Dufresne look like a poseur. Nonethless, I do appreciate the time afforded to me by you and your colleagues. I could write odes just to the parting walk through the restaurant kitchen; it truly was an unforgettable experience. Best wishes, XXXXXXXXXX P.S. I really should have taken that baguette. ----------- This pretty well marks the end of my venture towards a profession in culinary for the foreseeable future, and probably my attention to this forum, so please PM me (which fires an email) if you have any questions for me specifically.