Please read: Everything that you need to know about Le Cordon Bleu
First of all you need to understand that Le Cordon Bleu is a "FOR PROFIT" school. They are more concerned with making their investors money than they do the well being of students. They have panicked so much due to the new "Gainful Employment" laws that they have taken major losses. They've cut over 600 positions in the last two years and even had their CEO step down about a year ago. Take a look at their stock, it's in serious trouble. If they don't make profit in the next year they are in jeopardy. Let's get on with everything that you need to know about Le Cordon Bleu and CEC(Career Education Corporation).
One of the most important things that you should know is that the course is a Nationally Accredited program. Nationally sounds fancy but it's not. You want your college to be Regionally Accredited. National accreditation credits won't be accepted by any major college. When you attend a school like Alabama St or University of Texas they will not accept those credits. Not even your local community college will accept those credits. The representatives for the school are trained to tell you that this is not true and that it is up to the receiving institution to let you know if they will accept the credits or not. Long story short they will not be accepted and they are making it sound nice but putting it in those words. It's the training they've received to make you feel at ease about this topic so they can get your mind off of it and move on.
The meat and potatoes:
The course can range from 1yr up to 21 months. The one year course costs $19,500 in most states and the 21 month course costs $37,050 in most states. The one year course gives you almost all the cooking classes without lecture classes and the 21 month course is an "Applied Science Associates Degree". The associates is garbage and a waste of time. The credits won't transfer anywhere. At best the diploma is enough but still a waste of money. Classes are five days a week, for 4hrs per day. You rotate classes every 6 weeks. How much can you really learn in six weeks? Why do normal universities make you take classes for a semester? Of course they are trained to convince you that the 6 weeks is the better option because it captures your attention. It keeps you interested. Truth is that the human mind only retains 10% of new information learned. At the end of the program they promise to help you find an externship and offer career placement after graduation for the rest of your life. Here's the truth. Sure a few employers come to the campus to look for externs. But they start you off at minimum wage. The way the Le Cordon Blue gets their placements so high is that the career counselors there encourage you to find a job in the field ASAP. Then they try to convince you to do your externship at your current job as long as you are working as a cook. If you graduate and you are still working at that same place as a cook the school then gets to claim that it helped you find placement based on the fact that you are employed. Voila now the school has increased it's placement rates on it's website to make itself look better and to keep the government away from shutting them down. Beware of them trying to also convince you that they are better because they are Accredited by the American Culinary Federation(ACF). That doesn't mean much. You can register yourself with the ACF with some basic requirements including experience and basic education.
The admission counselors are trained to guide you into the 21 month course because that's how the school makes profit. The admissions representatives are trained in the art of "retention". Meaning that the longer they can keep you the more money they can make. If and only if for some reason you truly chose to attend Le Cordon Bleu, do not waste $20,000 more for the Associates Degree. How do you think the admissions counselors are judged for their work? They DO NOT make bonuses or commission... ANYMORE. At one time Le Cordon Bleu and CEC paid their admissions counselors $400 bonuses for every student that lasted in one of their courses for over 9 months. But now due to heavy government scrutiny about making money on student outcomes CEC stopped the bonuses before it got busted. Now to explain how the admissions counselors are judged. When you ask for information you immediately become a "LEAD". You're not a person or a student, you're a LEAD. Each admissions counselor is given roughly 150-200 new leads per month. Leads are gathered by you calling the number from the TV commercial, asking for information on-line, clicking on an advertisement banner that you might see on a website like Facebook, direct mail or if you're unemployed you might get a call from someone asking if you would be interested in going back to school. The admissions counselors have daily goals with their "Leads". They call you 3 times per day. They are required to dial 150 numbers per day. They recirculate old leads to try and get new business out of people who asked for information months ago. The admission counselors are tasked with setting up 3 appointments per day that will either show up to the school or by phone. They will tell you that it's an information session but really it's an appointment. Their goal and only goal during that first phone call is to set up an interview. Second job after you show up for an interview is to "Enroll" you. They try and try to convince you to do all of the paper work and to pay your application fee. Most application fees are around $50. Why is it so low you ask? Because you will not believe how many people will commit more because they had to pay the application fee. It's all psychological. Once you apply then be ready for all of the phone calls. After you sign up they have to follow up with you regularly and this process is called "Stitching in" students. Meaning that they have to call you religiously weekly to stay in touch and keep you engaged in the program so that you don't try to back out or what they call "Cancel". At the beginning of every month the admissions counselors have to sit down with their director and do what's called an MPR "Monthly Performance Review". That's where they find out how well they did their job. They look at your daily phone call volume, how many appointments were you able to set up for the month, how many of those appointment showed(Show rate), how many were you able to enroll and they also look at your start rate. Your start rate is the percentage of students that you were able to convince to start, out of all of the students that you enrolled for that current start. For instance:
Le Cordon Bleu has 8 start terms per year unlike most traditional schools that start in August and January. The admissions counselors are trained to convince you to enroll for the next most current start. If you push back they will act as if you have something to hide like a smoke screen and they will try to convince you to start right away. If an admissions counselor enrolls 20 students for the class of August and only 10 of those students actually start, then that admissions counselor has gotten a 50% start rate for that class. Each rep is encourage to shoot for a 70% show rate. Obviously the more that start the more profit the school makes.
Not sure what else you need to know but to make an already long story shorter, look into your local community college. Most community colleges offer Culinary. Yes it's a little longer and yes you have to take general education classes but let's look at the bright side. Most community colleges only cost around $1,500- $2,000 per semester. If you qualify for financial aid, it will probably cover that balance and you might even have a little left over cash. Other great things about this route is that as long as you pass your classes the credits will most like be able to transfer to another institution. Another fact about college is that roughly 86% of college students change their major. If you decide that culinary isn't for you, you still have good credits to switch to a new career option. Why put yourself $37,000 in debt just because cooking is fun? Take the safe route, earn a regular degree in culinary and your resume will open the doors for you. Just because a company called Career Education Corporation bought the rights to use the name "Le Cordon Bleu" in 1999 in the US doesn't mean that your career path is going to be easier. If anything it's going to be tougher because you are now in serious debt for something you could have done for hardly anything.
This review isn't to bash because it's a beautiful school, the chefs work hard and you can have fun but that's how they get you. It's like a kid walking into a candy store. The schools sells itself.
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