Is More Always Better?

Talking about the value of education is something most of us are a part of in some way. But it is often our views of what education entails and encompasses that can be vastly different. A literate person can teach themselves much on their own and educating can take place in so many different settings from early childhood through the end of our lives. Yet the reality is that most of us need formal training in something.

In an earlier post I explored different yet valid options for education and training. Some careers present a student with clear expectations of education level. If your ambition is to be a doctor, you know that the route is a bachelor’s degree, followed by medical school and residency before practicing medicine. There are no alternatives available, no shorter paths. But some career paths are more flexible in education requirements.

Since we are a culinary training institution, let’s consider our industry as a first example. A student interested in becoming a chef will find more than one option for their education. The most popular choices are an associate’s degree or a certification program. As in many areas of modern education, we often assume “more is better”.

This isn’t always the case.

Tuition for an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts can easily be double that of the tuition for a certificate in the same. This could be a difference of tens of thousands of dollars at some schools. But is that amount of money worth whatever added benefit the degree affords?

Generally, salaries are not much different. Employers aren’t valuing a degree enough to want to reward the graduate significantly in most instances. So there are some key issues here:

  1. The student spends much more money and at least an additional year in training and education.
  2. They give up the decent salary they could have earned during that year.
  3. In most cases, they aren’t earning a higher salary as a result.

Similarly, if you want to train to become an electrician, you have the option of certification programs and apprenticeships. But some students want to earn an associate’s degree. The hourly rate for an electrician completing either option is basically the same. Again, if you chose to finish a degree, you would be in school longer, spend more on education, start earning later, and earn roughly the same once employed.

There are situations when obtaining an associate’s degree helps the student. In fields where the cost/time vs benefit weighs in favor of the degree, a student should be encouraged to pursue it. However, let’s first encourage students to stop, explore, and analyze information about whether or not degree programs are the right fit, instead of degree programs being the default option for everyone.

Education is important. We can all agree on that. But we need to continue discourse about diverging paths and options, and make sure that students get a chance to decide what’s best for them.

One-size Doesn’t Fit All: Changing the Education Conversation

This afternoon I had an interesting discussion with several parents of middle and high school students, centered around how soon to begin deciding which college their child will attend. One parent asserted that by the freshman year of high school, the student should have a list of 20 colleges that they were eager to explore and research. Another mentioned that any hope of getting into the top school of their choice was nearly impossible if plans weren’t in place by 8th grade to complete certain course work, volunteering, and civic opportunities that look attractive to a college admission’s office. College entrance test-taking strategies were debated. Projected costs were bemoaned. Clearly, this is an issue of great importance to today’s parents, and for good reason.

But conspicuously missing from many of these discussions is whether all of our high school students should attend college.

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Culinary Trade Education, Affordable Prices.

Now that the State of the Union is over, there is much talk about the president’s community college initiative. Last week, I wrote that there are dangers to increasing federal spending for college:

As I wrote, the goal isn’t to increase federal spending; the goal is to decrease student debt.  And that’s what the president doesn’t understand.

Yes, college is a good thing.  But so is trade education.  My school, The Culinary School of Fort Worth, offers great skill-training for people wanting to become professional chefs.  On average, experienced executive chefs make $85,000 a year.  While our graduates won’t immediately make that kind of money, we give them the skill set and the head start needed to eventually succeed and make money as a chef.

But what if they have $100,000 in debt they have to pay back?  Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post picks up on that point:

As she points out, we already have Pell Grants for students who need them.

The better approach would be to encourage people to learn a skill and to do it debt-free.  If you are interested in learning more about how we do this at The Culinary School of Fort Worth, contact us at:

A better education Reform Plan – CSFTW on

One of our primary commitments to our students and the community is to provide well-trained, highly skilled Culinary trade professionals to the workforce and set them up for future success. A big part of that story has to do with traditional colleges, their rising cost and the amount of debt students are taking with them after their education completes, leaving some in too deep a hole to ever recover. The Culinary School of Fort Worth is committed to helping our students create an education plan that allows them to gain an education and graduate debt free to pursue a fruitful career into the future. We are privileged to have the opportunity to express our views on the subject of trade education on and lay out our platform for education.

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January 17 Brunch Featured in Indulge Magazine, Fort Worth Star Telegram

Our first Brunch of 2015 received some press from Indulge Magazine of the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Open to the public and BYOB, the brunch offers diners a choice of entree and stations for prepped-to-order salads, pastas, soups, omelets and desserts. January features will include truffled pork rib-eye with caramelized pear and lardon risotto, and lacquered ham and manchego croquettes with spiced carrot fennel puree. $24.95 per person.

To read the full story on The Culinary School of Fort Worth, click here to view on the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s Website

Alumni in Mansfield Now Magazine

CSFW grads Lisa Klotz and Angie Parman are featured in the February edition of Mansfield Now Magazine with recipes for Moroccan Barbecue Lamb Chops and Braised Short Ribs.

“One thing culinary school taught me was to use a recipe as a guide of possible base ingredients and once you have learned the fundamental techniques of cooking, you know how things should be prepared and why” – Angie Parman