I've always loved baking and I want to pursue a career in baking. I'm 25 and have absolutely nothing tying me in one spot (aside from lack of funds, but I've reconciled to the idea that I'm going to have to take out loans for culinary school). I'm from the D.C. area so L'Academie de Cuisine is the obvious choice. I'm also considering NECI and FCI (preferably the new California location). I was also considering PICA located in Vancouver and while it's inexpensive, not only would I have to deal with the pain in the butt bureaucracy of international studying, it's also the only place on my list that doesn't offer housing (L'Academie doesn't but obviously I can live at home). I haven't ruled out Johnson & Wales Rhode Island, either. I know that FCI has a good rep in the culinary community, but what about L'Academie and NECI (the latter being endorsed by the patron saint of food geeks, Alton Brown)? And if I go with NECI, should I go with the Associates in Baking & Pastry Arts or the Certificate? Also, I would very much like some insight in the daily life of a baker. I know I won't become rich, but just want to be financially independent. I'm fine with weird hours because I'm quite used to that with my current job. I'm pretty introverted so I'm fine working on my own, but don't have a problem with working with others. I do heavy lifting of up to 75lbs. at work, so that's not an issue. My goal is to own my own little bakery in New Mexico, Wilmington, North Carolina, Northern California, or the Pacific Northwest. While I don't have a vested interest, I'm willing to learn gluten-free and maybe vegan baking since those are growing niches. I also want to learn East Asian pastry and desserts because I had the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Japan during undergrad and sampled a few of their desserts, like mochi and profiteroles with azuki beans. Um, that's enough rambling on. I hope I've given enough for people to work with. Thanks in advance for any advice!