Why borrow $30,000 or more to pay for a 7-month course in culinary arts specialties at some for-profit culinary schools when you can attend a community college culinary arts certificate program in the Sacramento area at American River College for only $26 per credit at the present time? American River College has among the most respected culinary arts programs in northern California. The program emphasizes business theory and hands on cooking. Classes focus on job skills and professional fine dining cuisine. The program can be completed in 18 months, including a semester working in the kitchen of The Oak Café, the college’s 4-star restaurant.
See the sites, Culinary Arts and Capital Campaign. If you’re interested in culinary arts in order to become a pastry chef or open your own bakery or restaurant, it’s a start where you won’t have to borrow $30,000 or more to pay back some of the for-profit schools that recruit students from among recent high-school graduates.
American River College has a vision-an expanded facility that will more than double its teaching capacity, according to the Capital Campaign website . This vision will ensure the Hospitality Management/Culinary Arts program remains a premier training center, providing hands-on job training for students, and serving as a primary link to the local community.
In addition to more labs for teaching specialty areas, more classrooms for instruction and more storage, the new facility will transform the 500 square-foot Oak Café into a 2000 square foot multi-use venue, a working restaurant with significant revenue potential, a training ground for students, and a community meeting and conference space. Hundreds of students as well as many community groups will benefit from the new Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management Institute.
Frustrated graduates from some culinary schools, unable to find jobs, sue for settlement
Why this is important for those interested in working in food-related careers, is because frustrated graduates unable to find jobs are suing some for-profit California culinary schools that required them to pay or borrow around $30,000 for a seven-months long course. Check out the article by Terence Chea, Associated Press, that’s reprinted in today’s Sacramento Bee (September 5, 2011), “Irate grads sue culinary schools.” Also see the same article online since Sept. 4, 2011, Culinary school grads claim they were ripped off – GreenwichTime.
Why borrow and spend tens of thousands of dollars to learn how to hold an $8 an hour job in a bakery or restaurant if that’s the only job you can find? According to the article, “Culinary school grads claim they were ripped off – GreenwichTime,” some former students are suing certain for-profit cooking schools to get their money back, saying they were misled by recruiters about the value of culinary education and their job prospects after graduation. Read the article online for details on who’s being sued and why by former students.
For example, if you take out a loan for thousands of dollars for a course lasting less than a year and then find that the only job you can find is an $8 an hour night shift in a bakery, you’re left with, for example, a $30,000 loan to pay back for a seven-month course in culinary arts. For that $8 an hour night job instead of becoming a chef or opening your own bakery or eatery, you’re obligated to pay back the loan. Where are you going to find more money to open a business? Or do you plan to become a caterer? Are you going to borrow more money to start a catering business? If you’re a recent high-school graduate, who would lend you money other than for more education?
That amount of money is similar to what you’d have to pay for a year of medical school. You’d be better off at a community college. For a food-industry job, you’re competing with community college certificate program culinary graduates for the same job, as well as part-time workers who want full-time jobs. Most of the time, that bakery or restaurant will hire the part-time workers first before they’ll turn to recent graduates.
On top of that you have the millions of out-of-work people with experience. It becomes a competition for who has the most energy and health to withstand the stress of culinary arts as an occupation. That may leave out older students who are perceived as having less energy to work the most difficult shifts where the openings may be.
In 2004, the student interviewed in the article was a recent high school graduate, dreaming of opening her own bakery, when she enrolled in a 7-month program in pastry and baking arts located in San Francisco. Recruiters convinced her it was a worthwhile investment and helped her borrow $30,000 to pay for it. After finishing the program, the only job she could find paid $8 an hour to work the night shift at an Oregon bakery.
The results focus on the fact that working at the bakery didn’t require any certificate or degree. And she had to relocate to Oregon to find an $8 an hour job working nights in a bakery. On top of this, she then became obligated to repay the $30,000 loan the school obtained for her.
That’s what happens when high-school students are not able to research whether jobs actually exist capable of paying enough money to pay back a $30,000 loan. The student now plans to attend community college. If you look at Sacramento high schools, you wonder whether the students receive the type of vocational counseling where they can learn that there are more jobs open in some areas than in other areas.
For example, the student now plans to become a nurse or dietitian. Even if anyone attends a community college, it’s important to find out whether jobs are open for dietitians compared to nurses if a decision has to be made on two counts: whether you’re suited by personality, aptitude, and physical stamina/health to become a nurse or dietitian and whether there are more jobs open for nurses than for dietitians in the area or city in which you want to work. Ask former students what type of job they found after graduation. Did the market change since then? How has their education helped them find and keep jobs?
As for the lawsuits, under a pending $40 million settlement in state court, the chain of culinary schools has agreed to offer rebates up to $20,000 to 8,500 students who attended the academy between 2003 and 2008. Read the Sept. 4, 2011 article, Culinary school grads claim they were ripped off – GreenwichTime. So, if you’re interested in food, try a community college first. At least it costs you less, even if the tuition rates keep going up.
The problem with some, not all, for-profit schools is that when high-school students or recent graduates are lured by TV programs featuring chefs traveling around the world or lured by dreams of working as gourmet chefs/cooks or opening their own restaurants or bakeries, the reality of how difficult it is to find even a minimum-wage job in the food industry can turn into financial difficulties. Students struggle to find jobs to pay off loans. Culinary arts is known for low pay and long hours, and most jobs don’t require a certificate in culinary arts that costs the student hefty loans.
After school, you may find yourself working for $8 an hour all night long in the food industry, while the same loan could have paid for training in a field that still has shortages, such as a career for an R.N. with a graduate degree who works for a university training nurses, if you had a PhD in nursing education.
Many high-school students aren’t told how to train for jobs that are in demand when they need a job right away, and loans for $30,000 are easy to find if the school tells you how to apply. Or students may not enjoy reading books. They would rather cook and start work in less than a year out of high school. Regardless of your ‘major’….you have to learn which programs are more likely to leave you with huge debts and few, low-pay, part-time or no jobs at the exact time you need to find financial independence and move out of your parent’s home.
Information about American River College in Sacramento/Carmichael’s Culinary Arts & Hospitality Program