I'm a huge believer in higher education and would really love to go back to school so I can learn about the science behind baking, more advanced techniques, etc. I really wish that I'd know about culinary schools and baking programs 20+ years ago when I was in high-school. I would have fought tooth and nail to go. But at this point in my life it doesn't make sense. Let me explain...
I just met with a big-time culinary school that I happen to be fortunate enough to live close to. I was interested in going back to school for a baking & pastry degree. I was really surprised to see their baking program in detail. I'm sure every university is different but this one focuses primarily on plated desserts, pastries, and breads. In terms of cake it doesn't cover anything beyond basic baking science unless you're enrolled in a full-time, day-time Bachelor's degree program and even then you have to wait until the final semester of your 4th year to take the 3 courses they offer on sugar art, wedding cakes, and chocolate. They were kind enough to pull a course description for me and the wedding cake course was all about stacking, different types of icings, how to make roses, and using fondant/gumpaste. My jaw dropped.
I was very appreciative for their time but told the admissions' counselor that I didn't want to wait 4 years to learn how to make roses and stack a cake. For pete's sake...I can already do that!
I've been passively searching for employment over the past 6 months and virtually all of the bakeries that I've talked to have been looking for portfolios of work and haven't focused on a degree at all. The only one who asked for professional training is a very large & ritzy catering business that's looking for a cake/pastry chef. Not coincidentally, all of their current 15+ executive chefs come from this particular university
But I know they also do a lot of plated desserts, pastries, etc. so I'm sure the classes that are offered there are much more relevant for them than they would be for me, who wants to focus on cakes.
So I have decided to take advantage of the next few years to learn on my own, do a lot of practicing to build my portfolio, and take courses through cake shows, ICES events, etc. whenever I can. I figure that will be a lot more useful (and WAY WAY less expensive) than a degree that won't really align with my long term goals.