You want to attend culinary school, but you also have a full-time job. Can you do both?
Working while attending school requires a commitment of your time and energy. But with a weekly commitment of around 15-22 hours per week depending on program and credential, an education at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is absolutely possible while keeping up with your career!
Here are some tips to help busy, working adults succeed in online classes.
Create a Private Workspace
While much of your online class work will take place in the kitchen, there will also be computer-based work like reading, watching videos and live sessions, and interacting with fellow students on the class message boards.
If you live alone, the kitchen table may suffice to do double duty as a desk. But if you live with a spouse, roommate, or children, you need a private, quiet place free from distractions.
A small folding table and chair tucked into your bedroom will be sufficient. Make sure you have enough light to see without straining your eyes, and pens and notebooks for jotting things down.
It can also help to set boundaries with your roommates or family. Let them know when you’re busy with schoolwork, and when you’re available to chat. And since much of your work will take place in the kitchen, make sure you’re communicating well about when you plan to complete your cooking assignments, so they can plan accordingly.
Make a Planning Appointment With Yourself
Online culinary or pastry school requires some pre-planning. You’ll need time to complete your coursework and cooking assignments, but you also have to plan ahead to purchase the necessary ingredients.
As a working adult with a full-time job, you have a lot to juggle. So make it easier on yourself by scheduling a weekly planning session when you can assess your time and product needs.
The Escoffier school week runs from Wednesday through the following Tuesday. This is designed so online students are able to use the weekend to complete their school and ask the instructors questions before their assignments are due at the end of the week. So before Wednesday, schedule an hour to look over the coming week’s assignments. Schedule blocks of time to complete the reading and watch the videos.
Make sure to note the week’s live session so you don’t miss it! While you can watch the replay, it’s best to catch it live so you can participate in the Q&A session. This is also a good time to make a grocery list for the week’s cooking assignment, so you know exactly what you’ll need.
If you plan to do your cooking assignment on Sunday morning, for example, you know you’ll have to complete the reading, watch the videos, and get your groceries before then.
Online culinary school requires about 15 hours per week. By taking an extra hour to plan before the week begins, you can fit all of your course requirements into your busy schedule!
“I work more than 40 hours a week, I travel, and I also balance family life with my husband and two dogs. Escoffier online has made it possible for me to join a class live or watch an archived session at 10:30 at night when I have had a long day. I can wake up early to get my assignments done, and I know that an instructor or fellow student is there to help me navigate the waters.”
Shari Spooner, Online Culinary Arts Graduate
Did you know that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track after a distraction? That’s a long time!
And these days, we all have a small distraction factory on us at all times. It’s called a smartphone.
As a busy working student, every minute counts. Silence distractions so you can stay focused and complete your work efficiently.
Tips for Silencing Your Phone
- Put it in another room. If you can’t see it, you can’t pick it up!
- Turn off notifications for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter (or delete the apps from your phone entirely).
- Try an app like Forest to discourage you from looking at your phone for an hour.
- Block unknown callers if you get frequent spam calls.
Have a Backup Plan
When you study online, you are responsible for accessing the tools you need. Most of the time, this won’t be a problem. But what happens if you have to upload your cooking assignment photos in the next 20 minutes and your internet goes out?
Think about what could go wrong, and head off the problem by creating a backup plan! Make note of a nearby coffee shop or library with reliable internet where you can go in a pinch. Save your Chef Instructor’s email address somewhere easily accessible, in case you need to reach out at the last minute. For cooking assignments, it’s important to plan ahead and buy a little extra of that specialty ingredient, in case the first attempt at your assignment goes wrong.
A backup plan can help take the stress out of a time-sensitive situation and keep you on track.
Communicate with Your Employer, Chef Instructors, and Success Coach
As a busy adult with a lot of responsibilities to juggle, it’s vital to ensure that the people counting on you know what’s going on.
If you have a heavy school week ahead, you may want to give your employer a heads up. Of course, you’ll still meet your work obligations, but you may want to inform them that you won’t be available for overtime or extra assignments.
On the other hand, if you have a major crisis at work, and you’re concerned about meeting a school deadline, reach out to your Chef Instructor. While students are expected to meet their assignment due dates, the Escoffier team understands the challenges that adults face while both working and studying, and will try to work with you.
If you need help with technology, the Escoffier tech team has set availability throughout the week to assist you. And if you’re having a problem that you don’t know how to solve, your Success Coach is always there to help you stay on track and come up with solutions to your challenges.
“I struggled with school in the past for years, but with the help of Career Services and my Success Coaches, I graduated on time. I put a goal in place of getting 95% or higher in each of my baking courses, and I did exactly that.”
Kellie Trimble, Online Pastry Arts Graduate
Make Time for R&R
Between working full time and attending school online, the risk of burnout is real.
Keep yourself in good mental and physical shape by pencilling some relaxation into your schedule. Whether that’s a walk around the block each afternoon or a coffee date with a friend on a Saturday morning, be proactive about your downtime.
If you don’t actively decide how to spend your time off, you risk wasting it on a Netflix binge or scrolling Instagram. And while those activities are fine, they won’t do much to nourish and replenish you.
Try to devote one full day per week to rest. 24 hours with no work or school responsibilities will help keep you sharp on the other six days.
“I am most proud of my ability to complete the classes and assignments while working full time, caring for loved ones, and participating in church events.”
Sharon Watts, Online Culinary Arts Graduate
Plan to Succeed
The flexibility of online culinary school makes an education more accessible than ever before. That’s why we are proud to welcome students from all walks of life, including many full-time working adults. With a little planning and organization, you can succeed at both work and education. It will be a busy time, and a rewarding one!
Your journey to a culinary future starts here.
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