Is It Worth It?

Business By sweetkisscakes Updated 2 Jun 2009 , 1:09am by mombabytiger

sweetkisscakes Posted 31 May 2009 , 11:48pm
post #1 of 24

I am 19 and I have been accepted to the french culinary institute for pastry arts. My focus will be Wedding cakes. Everything I know now I have taught myself and I feel like I could learn fast in any environment whether it be a kitchen or class room. I just applied for my loans and found out that I will be paying about $600 a month for the next ten years to pay off school. With how much you all sell and make do you think that going to school and thus having this debt will be beneficial or only hold me back in my cake shop dreams?

23 replies
2508s42 Posted 31 May 2009 , 11:59pm
post #2 of 24

I think that is a decision that only you can make.

I look back at my life and I wish I had the courage to follow my dreams. I never hold my kids back now, because it is only money. I can always make more. I want my children to have a life they are passionate about, that they love. I want them to wake up every day and love their life and be grateful that they GET to go to their chosen career. Life will knock them down fast enough. I don't have to help them. I personally would do everything in my power to follow my dreams and to help my kids follow theirs.

Will you have to work hard? Absolutely. Is it rare to be famous and totally rich from cake decorating? Absolutely. Is it worth it to be happy and not to wonder, what if? Absolutely!!!!
But are you going to have to pay back the loans??? Absolutely. It's up to you.

cheferyn Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 12:00am
post #3 of 24

go for it. pastry school was awesome and i learned so much. as far as cake goes, i'm self taught and actually took over the class when it came to decorating and stuff. it's your call but i loved school and would love to go back. good luck.

Eisskween Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 12:01am
post #4 of 24

Debts are never 'beneficial', but education certainly is. Two important questions: (1) Is it a worthwhile investment to you? Do you plan on taking it further to work for a restaurant under a chef and/or work on your own with it. In other words, will you use this education?

and (2) Is it financially doable?

When I was in school and old woman shared some very wise words with me and I'll share them with you.

"They can take away your house, your car, your family. The one thing that no one can take away from you is your education."

Those two sentences have served me well.

Good luck to you. icon_biggrin.gif

jmr531 Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 12:06am
post #5 of 24

i went to fci and loved it. however, i do want to mention that when i attended, while we did spend some time on cakes, more emphasis was placed on pastry from the perspective of a a restaurant kitchen. even though i have never worked in a restaurant (and don't plan to in the future), i still believe it was worth it as it gave me a really strong foundation in pastry.

blondeez Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 12:06am
post #6 of 24

I agree with 2508 about it being your final decision. Im 36 and if I knew know what I did at 19 I would have gone to pastry school and seen if there were any apprenticeship programs with cake artist that I admire. I am a creative person and until I took a cake decorating class I spent alot of time working with lots of different mediums. I am just extemely happy that Im still young enough to make my dreams come true. It will just take me a little longer now that I have kids and a husband.
Follow your dream and all will work out. Good luck on your decision.

Michellet62260 Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 12:07am
post #7 of 24

WOW! That's a lot of money, but then I checked in to going to the Culinary Institute of America and it was sky high.
Even though your focus will be on wedding cakes, you will be going to school for pastry arts. You will learn so much more and will perhaps be able to open a full bakery, you still focusing on the wedding cakes and hire other people to carry out the other things you have learned or they have learned on their own.
Chances are, with these kind of payments, you will have to work for someone else when you get out of school anyway. From what I hear some of the high end hotels and restaurants pay incredible money to talented pastry chefs. I would love to have that title and talent and experience!
I say, over all it would be worth it but then you were asking for advice from the girls who actually do this a lot for a living. I am working at a grocery store bakery and am still in the learning stages. I know I have talent, I just need more experience. They won't finish my training so I have to wait to get money to take classes. Since they have cut me to 13 hours a week now, it is hardly possible, I can barely survive as it is.
I say, GO FOR IT! FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS! I wish I was you, young and mind made up and determined. You have a lot going for you. Good Luck!! Michelle

sweetkisscakes Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 12:24am
post #8 of 24

thank you for all the great advice! I guess I'm just getting cold feet and I needed some encouragement. I feel like I'm being a little to practical about it. I am really excited about class.

ljdills Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 12:27am
post #9 of 24

I think it depands on what you are going to pastry school for. I have talked to several people like jmr531 that attended and learned very little about cake decorating, so if that is where your head and heart are then there may be better avenues than pastry school. That being said, more education is always a positive.

funbun Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 12:42am
post #10 of 24

Go To School! I learned so much in pastry school. Great tips about the industry and you can network with all the chefs who teach at the school. Pastry school teaches you the basics and you take it from there. I did sugar and chocolate show pieces in school that I never would have gotten to do otherwise. It is a place to experiment and absorb all you can. The money is important but follow your dreams and you will find a way to pay off the loan when it comes due. icon_biggrin.gif

cakes-r-us Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 12:50am
post #11 of 24

I don't post a lot, but I read a lot. I say go to school, you will figure out how to pay it back. Just do what you love and the money will come.

Rylan Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 1:24am
post #12 of 24

That is a lot of money. If you know you can afford it, why not.
Also consider scholarships, grants and financial aid. It would help you a lot.

Like ljdills says, some have learned very little about cake decorating from culinary school. If you are really dedicated then go for it. Back in the days, I wanted to be a vet... I changed my mind... I then wanted to do interior design... I again changed my mind... I realized that my true love is cake decorating.

Do you know that Laiskonis, one of the best pastry chefs in the world didn't have any type of formal culinary training? Even Kerry Vincent is self taught. Check out CC and let me tell you, most are basically self taught and they do incredible cakes.

I believe that you don't need to go to school to be successful in the culinary industry.

Good luck =]

snarkybaker Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 1:44am
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetkisscakes

I am 19 and I have been accepted to the french culinary institute for pastry arts. My focus will be Wedding cakes. Everything I know now I have taught myself and I feel like I could learn fast in any environment whether it be a kitchen or class room. I just applied for my loans and found out that I will be paying about $600 a month for the next ten years to pay off school. With how much you all sell and make do you think that going to school and thus having this debt will be beneficial or only hold me back in my cake shop dreams?




Gotta tell you, I had a FCI grad working for me and I wasn't overly impressed, especially for $32,500 a year. If it were me, I would go to a local state university and get a business degree ( since you aspire to own your own business), see if you can get an apprentice level job in a bakery to help pay for it, and then go to the French Pastry School in Chicago, which has a diploma course you can complete in about 7 months for 20,000 or less if you qualify for financial aid.

I would say that 19 is too young to decide to put yourself in that kind of debt without ever having lived the job. Despite what the FCI website says, nationwide, culinary professionals do NOT average high five figure salaries. Having a business degree will give you more options, and having a little more experience working in a professional kitchen will tell you whether or not you want to do this for a living before you commit a large sum of money.

sweetkisscakes Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 1:59am
post #14 of 24

tuition has gone up to about $38000 and i figure i will need to take out another 10 to 20 thousand for living expenses since it is nyc. It is my dream and I know it would be a wonderful experience but that number is just staggering. I know I could easily learn while working under someone. The problem with that is that there isn't a need for high end cake decorating anywhere near me. after graduating I planned on relocating near a job.

klhayes Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 2:06am
post #15 of 24

A degree is fine but make sure that you get as much experience as you can. In addition, be careful with loans because that's how I was able to attend college and my payments are close to $500.00 a month and in addition to working a full time job I also work a part-time job to payback my student loan. I wasn't eligible for any grants or financial assistance other than loans and my parents believed that if I wanted to attend college that I would have to pay for it myself so I didn't receive any help from them either. If this is what you truly want to do then go for it because you'll regret it in the long run if you don't. Good luck!

krissycupcakes Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 2:16am
post #16 of 24

sweerkisscakes i will say this i wish i could go to, but for me the thats not an option right now. if you can do it thats great and i think you should of you can but i do agree FCI may not be what your looking for i have worked with meny chefs from differnt schools and i tryed to learn whatever they brought to the table but i will say my fav chef and good friend went to FCI and i wasnt impressed they are very technical as in he could tell you off the top of his head chemical reactions, temperatures things melt at , ect. he was a walking book but thats it and the last chef i worked with went to a school i didnt think much of and hadnt herd much of just a general restaurant school like a 1 or 2 year kind and i think she knew the book stuff but she was good at pairing flavors making recipes and all around. so the best advise to you i could offer would be you get what you take from the experiance!!!!!!! and you might not need to go the most formal route think about it long and hard good luck !!!!!!

snarkybaker Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 2:27am
post #17 of 24

French Pastry School in Chicago will be offering a course SPECIFICALLY in cake baking and decorating beginning in August of 2010. Go to community college for a year, take some accounting and marketing classes, get a job at a local bakery and apply in August.


Quote:
Quote:

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Cookie45 Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 2:42am
post #18 of 24

I agree with snarky baker. There are other ways to educate yourself without having a crushing debt hanging over your head when you are done. Give community college a year or two, take as many cake related courses as you can from other sources, and re-evaluate in a year or so.

At your age, that seems like a long time, but believe me, it will pass in a flash. God Bless as you seek out your "path."

jewelykaye Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 5:13am
post #19 of 24

I, too, agree with snarkybaker on this. There is no need to go into such debt right away. I think her suggestions are great. You really should look into a business degree. While I know it's not as "fun" to go to school for a business degree as it would be to go for pastry it would definitely help you out a lot more in the long run. Pastry/chef/wedding cakes do not pay that great (especially starting off) so to have a $600/month student loan would be an extremely heavy burden to carry while you are trying to build your dream.

gerripje Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 6:13am
post #20 of 24

Ditto what snarkybaker said. Some sort of business courses wouldn't limit you either. If you ultimately want to own your shop one day, they will be worth their brain weight in gold! Then take the new program that is more what you are wanting to learn anyway.
I have a degree in environmental science and after I was done, I worked exactly four months in something similar.... then got married and was a SAHM for six years. My mom urged me to take a short course for a hospital unit clerk right after I was done high school. I thought what the heck for!! That six month program has gotten me a job anytime and any place we go, even after being out of work for so long. I don't regret getting a more specialized and expensive degree, but the shorter, cheaper practical certificate has come in very handy.

-Tubbs Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 3:02pm
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cookie45

I agree with snarky baker. There are other ways to educate yourself without having a crushing debt hanging over your head when you are done. Give community college a year or two, take as many cake related courses as you can from other sources, and re-evaluate in a year or so.



I agree 100% with this. That is A LOT of money you're talking about, and you'll still be paying it off many years down the line, even if you've decided cakes aren't for you...

Tallulah Posted 1 Jun 2009 , 3:53pm
post #22 of 24

Hi!

I myself went to culinary school for baking and pastry arts. I do not regret the experience. I had a great time, I had wonderful instructors, I made great friends, and I learned so much. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. The loan, yes, but not the experience.

However, culinary school does not focus solely on cake decorating. It focuses more on pastries, desserts, production and the technicalities of it all. If anything, culinary school prepares you with the basics to join the restaurant industry.

If you really want to learn more on cake decorating, I suggest you take classes offered by Ron Ben Israel (at FCI), Toba Garret (ICE), Collete Peters, Elisa Strauss etc, then develop your own style. You can also take baking rec courses at FCI or ICE. The rec instructors at ICE are very good.

Have you given thought to how you will pay your 38k school loan? Pastry chefs do not make much money starting out. The harsh reality is, you are not going to become a celebrity cake decorator overnight. You will have to work hard, and make solid connections.

So before you sign on that 38k dotted line, give it some more thought; because honey, its not all cake and frosting.

classiccake Posted 2 Jun 2009 , 12:53am
post #23 of 24

If you want to run your own business, I would consider the schooling. I have two employees who went to school and they now say they wished they hadn't because they learned most of what they know from me. But I would not have hired them if they did not know basics. So the question remains, where would they learn the basics before coming to me.

I don't require my people to have graduated from pastry school....some have come from grocery bakeries and a couple have been good do-it-yourself people. But they must have basic skills to start here and then get further training from me. I only went to the "school of hard knocks." I could have learned faster with schooling, but it all worked out in the end.

Only you can make the determination what will work best for you. Best wishes in your endeavors.

mombabytiger Posted 2 Jun 2009 , 1:09am
post #24 of 24

Just a thought - many of the greatest cake designers have an art background. When I say I wish I were a better cake decorator, I think that half the time what I mean is that I wish I were a better ARTIST. Colette Peters started out studying art. Elisa Strauss was a textile designer. Although education is always a wonderful thing, it is wonderful no matter where it came from. I learned a great deal in pastry school, but nothing I couldn't have taught myself.

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