You love to cook, you love food and you want to make a career in the culinary arts, but you don’t know how you can afford to go to a culinary institute. The usual route to financing any scholastic endeavor is through student loans and you may have already tapped that source. Another way to finance your education is through scholarships.
Landing a culinary institute scholarship isn’t as difficult as it sounds. It’s not overly easy either. You’ll have to do your part and put some effort into searching one out. Hundreds of opportunities are there for the taking. The trick is to know where to look. These opportunities won’t come to you. No one is going to wake up one morning and hand out culinary institute scholarships to anyone who asks. Securing a scholarship takes time and effort on your part and the results are more than worth it.
You will need to know where to look, so the first thing to do is gather up your resources and build a file with a list of places. The phone book is always a good start for locating a cooking school near you. The Internet is even better. Do a search on schools, colleges and universities. Don’t rule out continuing education, night classes and online classes as keywords to use in your search.
There are many other sources to include when searching for the best school. The following is just a sampling of sources.
High schools: Whether you’re still in high school or not, guidance counselors have many resources at their fingertips and it’s worth talking to one of them. If they can’t help you directly, they can certainly point you in the right direction.
Universities: Many culinary institutes offer scholarships to students already attending and there are some that also provide scholarships to those wishing to attend. Talk to the financial aid department. Scholarships are not something most schools put right out in plain view. Unless you ask for it, the school isn’t going to volunteer the information.
Your current employer: If you’re already working in the cooking industry, some employers offer to pay for furthering your education. Talk to your Human Resources department and find out what programs are available.
Community groups: Check out the local cooking clubs and other community groups in your area. While these groups may not be directly involved with a culinary institute, some members might have had scholarships themselves. Use someone else’s experience to your advantage and don’t be afraid to pick a few brains.
Culinary organizations: Sometimes it pays to go right to the source. Many culinary institutes regard this as good public relations. They want to promote their craft and are on the look out for fresh talent. You may have to go beyond the web page and actually call these places, send a letter, or email requesting information on scholarships.
Big business sponsorship: Many big businesses in specific industries make large contributions to scholarship programs. If they don’t offer the funding to the students directly, they may make donations to the schools. Companies like Coca Cola and Pepsi have their own foundations set up, as do many others. Again, it takes some digging, but the results are well worth the effort.
Keep in mind that knowing where to look is as important as when to look. Starting a month or two before the next semester begins is already too late. This type of planning starts at least a year or two in advance. Take a look at where the awards went and to whom. Make a checklist with everything you need to do to fulfill all the requirements. Create a timetable for yourself so you don’t miss a thing.
A scholarship may not provide you with complete funding for your entire education, but it will give you a head start. You might end up finding a few small scholarships that are only a couple of hundred dollars. Don’t turn your nose up at these either. It all helps, even if it just covers the cost of your books or tools. Keep looking and stay focused.
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