While we have seen a spike in the number of cooking schools opening around the U.S.A, pastry schools have not seen the same interest. It is true that some culinary schools offer pastry programs, but those classes are far from their primary educational focus. Having said that, a focused pastry school curriculum offers specific training over a 3 month time span for a certificate program or a 2 year program for an associates degree in pastry arts.
The quality of the instructor could make or break the program. A great instructor can turn a plain vanilla curriculum into an all-immersive experience for each student. This is a great reason to pay a visit to every culinary school in consideration. It is an opportunity to see students interact with each other and the instructor. Don’t waste time with the admissions staff beyond what’s absolutely necessary. Their job is to sell prospects on the school, so you won’t necessarily get impartial information from them. If it is available, try to sit in on a class to get a feel for them. Note the interaction between the students and the instructor. You should be able to tell immediately whether or not students are totally focused on learning and baking.
If it’s not possible to immediately visit a pastry school under consideration, see if any of the school’s alumni write blogs or similar online material. Most schools would be happy to provide a list of alumni who would be more than willing to have a conversation about their pastry school experience.
Using these two methods should be a great help in locating a premier pastry school. After a school has been chosen, the next question becomes “How will I afford it”? If a professional pastry arts program is too costly, you may want to try pastry classes taught by a community college. Although community college instructors may not have the same track record as a pastry school instructor, that doesn’t mean they are poor instructors. For those who aspire to work in a top-tier bakery, attending a premier baking and pastry school will provide the best opportunity.