Culinary Travel and Hospitality School Rankings
In the US, a whole industry has arisen focused on the ranking of universities and colleges, with the majority of these rankings focused on bachelor's and master's degree programs at universities and 4-year colleges, or the institution as a whole. National and international organizations such as US News &World Report, The Princeton Review, The Washington Monthly and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) based in Shanghai, China, regularly publish general rankings designed to identify the "best" graduate and undergraduate schools and programs according to quality and value. However, a good number of programs in culinary, travel and hospitality are found at the community, technical and career college levels. This doesn't mean there are no rankings to consult, though! Two main sources of community college rankings are The Washington Monthly and Career College Week, and schools and programs are also ranked by industry-specific publications such as (in the case of culinary, travel and hospitality) Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Education. There are also less "official" student-based rankings like StudentsReview, and some professional associations have reports from student surveys about various schools and programs, which provide still more "rankings." These associations--for example Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (CHRIE)--often offer awards and honors for teaching excellence, and looking at who they have honored can also be used to supplement your 'ranking' of schools.
Each of these sources, however, has its own particular set of criteria for evaluating schools and programs. In the case of the controversial Gourman Report (which ranks both undergraduate university and professional programs), the author specifically refuses to disclose his methodology. How then should all these rankings be interpreted?
First, the ranking reports often come with detailed data to support conclusions, and while data collection can be subjective (in the case of student surveys in particular), the editors of these reports usually make an effort to ensure that statistics are comparable. So the reports can be used by you to compare institutions and schools on the basis of the data provided.
Second, the statistics that come from the rankings can also suggest topics that need to be studied in more detail. For instance, these programs often offer co-ops or industry internships, but if the graduation rate and employment of grads are low, you may want to ask why.
All university and college rankings have one other thing in common: they are a list of institutions and schools. Scanning the list might suggest a culinary, travel and hospitality school that you had not considered or perhaps even heard of. Used this way, the rankings can help expand your list of schools that can then be researched in more detail.
However, you should never judge a culinary, travel and hospitality school or program based on rankings alone. Rankings are important, but there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration. Schools that are less prominent may have a program that suits your needs better than any nationally ranked schools. Lesser known regional universities and colleges can also be a good choice if you wish to remain close to home during your studies. Often times, these schools have the strongest relationships with local industries and employers. Once you have accumulated this information, you can create your own culinary, travel and hospitality school rankings.
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