Let me say this now....
Deciding on a Culinary School is a *pain in the ass*
Last night, I toured a third School (Icasi Culinary School in Chesterland). For those not keeping track, the other two were: Pittsburgh Culinary (Pittsburgh, obviously) & Sullivan University (Louisville, KY). Right now, I am looking into a *fourth*: The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.
Each one of these has problems I'm trying to work around to see what works best for me. Going in reverse order: Icasi is one of those schools which seems like it will be good in 5 years or so. But, as of now, they're unproven (only 1 graduate, though they currently have 70 students enrolled), they're small (only 2 kitchens) and they are not accredited. These are big negatives, albeit ones I can see them correcting as years go on. But, I'm not looking to go to school in five years, I want to go next year. The advantages are that: they're local. At only 1/2 an hour away from my house, I'd be able to work and go to school at the same time, all the while continuing to live in Cleveland. They're cheap, offering a diploma for only $14,000, compared to the $40,000 of other Culinary Schools. Finally, they do have name recognition locally. This is both a plus and minus. While it would help me get a job in Cleveland, it would probably do very little for helping me work outside of the city and..honestly..I'm not sure how long I want to stay in Cleveland for.
Next up is Pittsburgh Culinary. We toured them over this past spring/summer. Their advantages are: they are near to Cleveland. I could keep the band together, still see friends, etc. Plus, Pittsburgh isn't that different from Cleveland. A little smaller, a little easier on the eye, but it wouldn't represent a drastic change in lifestyle. The downsides...well, the big one is the price. At $41,000, they cost just as much as the #1 Culinary School in the Country (CIA), except without the prestige. So, though I don't doubt the education I would receive, I also think my money could be better spent at a better school, if I'm going to pay that much. They're also part of this chain of Culinary Schools that were all bought up some odd years ago by one organization. Chicago is another one. Their websites look the same ("Top 10 Reasons to go to X school!!"), their schedules are the same. It's a feeling of homogenization of education that rubs me the wrong way. Genevieve pointed out that it's kind of like those commercials you see "Can you draw this pirate? Then you too can be artist!"
Finally, Sullivan University. The upsides are that: it's a school with a surprising amount of prestige. A number of websites I found listed it as one of the top in the country. They also offer a course layout I really like, including some extra concentration on catering, as well as an in-house 3.5 star student-run restaurant. Overall, I was really suprised how much I liked them. The problem: it's in Louisville, Kentucky. Granted, it would be near my dad, which would be nice. But, the town also has 0 electronic music scene (so the band would be dead), 0 real art scene for Genevieve, and..other than a few hip strips, it's just no the sort of town we'd want to live in. Granted, there's a beautiful historic district. But I just feel there's not enough, besides the school, there for us.
So, we're back at Square One. Looking at the Institute of Culinary Education. We'll see how that goes..