School Bind

Joined Aug 24, 2010
Hello, completely new to this site but I really needed feedback as to what exactly I should be looking at educational-wise. I'm only 19 and dropped out after my second year of my 4 year university when I realized that I was only happy in the kitchen. This summer I was lucky enough to land a great opportunity working as the morning baker at a well known bakery. I applied to a (admittedly expensive) culinary school and thought I hit the jackpot when I was offered a full ride. A few months later I find out it was a mistake email, not meant for me. At this point I'm completely lost as to the next step. I have a well paying baking job at which I continue gaining experience, but no education. Now i'm filled with fear at the thought of paying $70 grand and being stuck with little knowledge, a minimum wage job, and a sufficient amount of debt. So, it is worth it to go and get an associates or bachelors degree? Or is it sufficient to go out and grab a three month certificate and see what I can do with it? Any thoughts or ideas are well appreciated!
Joined Aug 24, 2010
If all you want to do is cook, I think the certificate program is enough. But you may want to consider the fact that you may decide to do something else later in life and it might be a challenge to go to school for a bachelor's then. I just graduated with my BA and now I'm going to culinary school. It feels good to have something to "fall back on" if cooking doesn't work out for me. A lot may change for you in the next couple years as you learn more about yourself. :)

I think you can be successful either way, but the bachelor's or associates have the potential to make you look like a better applicant when you're going for different jobs. And they'll also make it easier for you to continue your education later if you chose to (particularly the bachelor's). But I may be a bit biased. :)

Best of luck!!
Joined Oct 10, 2005
This type of situation comes up about once a month, and my advice is/ always has been the following:

1)  I get very suspicious of a "degree" in a manual trade like baking or cooking.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that only universities can offer degrees in education. Paper (or sheepskin) certificates will only impress a green H.R. mngr.  How you act and work in the first 4 hours in your job will impress your Boss.

2 School does not offer what O.J.T. can offer, and O.J.T. does not offer what school can.  You need both.  Doesn't matter what kind of culinary school you go to--just as it doesn't matter what type of highschool you went to in order to write entrance exams for University.

I strongly suggest checking out the local Community colleges.

3) Be extremely aware of the big name culinary schools, be even more suspicous if they employ "recruitment officers", and run like heck if the recruitment officers are paid commision.

4) Count on earning diddly-squat for the first few years.  If anyone promises you $60,000.00 per year, get them to guarantee it, and get it signed by a lawyer or notary public.

Hope this helps   
Joined Apr 3, 2010
Again for the 100 millionth time. All schools teach the fundamentals of cooking and baking. You could pay $50,00 or $70,000 as stated above. Neither makes a difference. You either have it or you do not. It's ALL UP  to the student and how far he or she wants to go.
Joined Aug 26, 2010
Hey Brittanne, if you have what you consider a well-paying job doing what you like, stick with it for a while and learn all you can. I went to culinary school when it was still cheap and don't regret it 'cause I love to cook as well as bake, but nowadays I'm not so sure that it's the best way to go. Too many students, ungodly expensive, and the quality of students that are going to these schools has gone down considerably in the last 5-6 years. I also agree that going to a school where you'll get a certificate is more valuable than a full degree. My culinary alma mater was bought out and converted to a Cordon Bleu that is now offering a 4-yr bachelor's degree curriculum at - get this - $90K! From what I've seen from these grads, I think you're better off doing on the job training. As you move along, you'll work with more people who will always have something new for you to learn.

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