Should I Go to Culinary School In A Recession?
Times of economic hardship almost always lend themselves to personal re-evaluations about what individuals want out of life. Is it financial security? A focus on family? The chance to go back to school to start a new career?
School admissions are on the rise in recent years, due in large part to a larger laid-off population and an influx of people who have made the decision to focus on their professional dreams. Culinary school is no exception to this—in fact, because becoming a chef or baker is such a long-standing dream for so many people, it is one of the first places to turn to when other career opportunities look grim.
But just because it sounds like a good plan doesn’t necessarily make it so. If you’re facing a layoff or career change and are wondering if it’s time to take the leap to attend culinary school, here are a few considerations:
Changing careers is never easy, no matter what’s going on in the economy. Sure, it’s a lot simpler to make the decision to go to culinary school if you just lost your job or are facing cutbacks, but the truth is that there is no “ideal” time to start anew.
There will always be adjustments to your income, your lifestyle, and your family dynamics. You have to be prepared to accept these changes and face the often overwhelming prospect of a new career in a new field.
There will be more competition. You aren’t the only one with dreams of becoming a chef, and other people in your situation will also be preparing to expand their professional horizons. This doesn’t mean you can’t succeed—it just means you’ll have to work extra hard.
It costs money to go to culinary school. Going back to school to become a chef isn’t a quick financial fix—especially if you’ve just been laid off. It can take years (or even decades) before the investment in your education pays off. Although you might qualify for financial aid, take some time to determine what that means for your finances for the next five, ten, or even twenty years.
Prepare to make the transition. Moving from full-time employee to full-time student can be tricky—especially if it’s been a while since you were in school. You might have more time to yourself or you might have less. The trick is to make what time you have work for you by studying hard, taking advantage of opportunities that come your way, and networking wherever you can.
If losing your job or facing cutbacks at work is the all the motivation you need to pursue your dream of becoming a chef, good for you. As long as you research culinary schools ahead of time and make the necessary long-term financial plans, you could be well on your way to a new future.