Lounge By salokin Updated 2 Dec 2009 , 1:55pm by CakesByJen2

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salokin Posted 30 Nov 2009 , 4:10am
post #1 of 18

I've been in college for nine monthes now, going for baking and pastry. I only wanted to go to this college to learn how to decorate cakes and open my own cake shop. The problem is everything my instructors have taught has been stuff I've learned form watching food network. And as for cake decorating I've learned more from reading this forum then they taught. On top of that the city I'm living is making feel miserable and depressed. I don't want to disappoint my family but if I stay here I'm going to lose it. Any one have any advice for this situation? Would dropping out make it too difficult to open a shop later on down the road?

17 replies
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Texas_Rose Posted 30 Nov 2009 , 4:16am
post #2 of 18

Is it possible they just haven't gotten to the good stuff yet? icon_biggrin.gif

Seriously, what happens to your student loans if you drop out? Will you have to start paying them back right away and can you afford to?

Do you have some friends where you're living now? If not, can you make a few friends so you won't feel so alone where you are? and do you get to go home for Christmas, do you think you'll feel less lonely after a visit with family for Christmas?

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Brandy982006 Posted 30 Nov 2009 , 4:19am
post #3 of 18

I would never incourage anyone from dropping out of school but I have to answer one of the questions you have...

Would dropping out make it too difficult to open a shop later on down the road?

I think, as long as you know what you are doing as far as cake decorating, you shouldn't have a problem opening your own shop. You are selling your cakes...not your degree. I am a self taught cake decorator. I have NEVER had a class of ANY kind and I am going to open my own shop in 2010. I get a lot of people who want to order my cakes but because I don't have my own shop, I can not sell them. I just make cakes for family and friends and love that they let me "practice" for them.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do thumbs_up.gif

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lilthorner Posted 30 Nov 2009 , 4:22am
post #4 of 18

sorry you are having a hard time.. I am in school at my local community college (going on 2nd year). I already knew that I wouldn't learn much about cake decorating. I did expect to learn the basics are probably learning more at your school than I learned at mine.

How long is the program? if it is a private school, you are more thatn liekly almost done.

You don't need a certificate/diploma to open up a business, but hopefully something you learned in a purchasing module or class that assists you in finding the right vendors, how to cost out your recipes,etc.. That is one of the most beneficial things I learned in school.

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adonisthegreek1 Posted 30 Nov 2009 , 4:23am
post #5 of 18

Wow, my school is fantastic. What we learn and the little tips and tricks I would have never learned on Foodnetwork. Maybe you just aren't at a good school. I don't think a degree or certificate is the only way of qualifying you to open a shop. You need to take some cost control and business classes. You can be the best decorator in the world, but if you don't know how to control your costs, market yourself and interact with customers you won't get very far. Take a good look at yourself and decide if you are ready to start a business or not. Maybe you are just homesick or bored. Make some new friends and have some fun. Your outlook will change.

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salokin Posted 30 Nov 2009 , 4:28am
post #6 of 18

I've made friends were I live and do go out with every now and then. And I visit my family twice a month. I just feel that I'm wasting my time when I could be working full time somewhere to start saving a little bit of money

The school that I go to focuses more on breads then anything else, wish they would have said that before hand so I wouldn't be in this spot.

I wouldn't have to pay back loans until after I've been gone for six monthes. For the past seven monthes I've felt like I am going to school for other people's sake not mine.

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lilthorner Posted 30 Nov 2009 , 4:42am
post #7 of 18
Originally Posted by salokin

The school that I go to focuses more on breads then anything else, wish they would have said that before hand so I wouldn't be in this spot.

I still don't know if you go to a private school, but most of the admissions persons at these school are recruiters.. their job is to get people to enroll at school. I get accused of over thinking quite a bit, but in reality it benefits me because I almost OVER research things I am trying to do.. cakes and cake decorating is such a small part of pastry. You may have a decorating class or 2 at school but that would be about it...

since you have student loans (the school has most likely gotten the bulk of their $$) you are going to be paying for something you didn't even finish..ultimately it's up to you, none of us can tell you what to do, we can only offer advice based on where we are.

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salokin Posted 30 Nov 2009 , 5:27am
post #8 of 18

I go to a private university. I only pay for classes that I have taken and only up to the week I attend to

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mightydragon663 Posted 1 Dec 2009 , 10:54pm
post #9 of 18

I'm so sorry you are feeling so bummed. I personally, am a strong believer that we can learn from just about any situation, no matter how much we hate it. I would encourage you to stick it out. No, it probably won't help you with running a cake shop, but if you keep an open mind, you may be surprised how much you can learn...even if it doesn't directly apply to cakes. icon_smile.gif
Sometimes, you just have to close your eyes and plow through. Remember "this too shall pass." thumbs_up.gif
I hope things get better for you.

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mkolmar Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 12:42am
post #10 of 18

I'm a firm believer in school. However, one of your posts concerns me. When your going to school for other people and not yourself that's not a good situation. I've done that myself and hated it and in turn began to hate school. Hardly any baking pastry school is going to focus on decorating more than a month. There is the French Pastry School in Chicago that has a cake decorating course though for I think 1 year.
How close are you to being done? If you are really close I would stick it out. If you have more than a year and still feel like this isn't your calling you may want to rethink your plan of action. School is expensive and to collect debt or be paying for something you don't want to do may not be wise. You could divert your attention to cake classes and business classes instead. Like I said though if your close to being done, I would stick it out. It shows that you have some schooling and that may be important to others (perhaps a loan officer or an employer) down the road.

Make sure what you do is what's right and you really think it through, you don't want to regret leaving/staying down the road.

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salokin Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 2:02am
post #11 of 18

If I were to stick it out, I would still go get a business degree at the local college in my hometown. But I'm just trying to figure out if I would benefit in the long run if I just went for the business degree and skip the baking and pastry one all together.

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mkolmar Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 2:45am
post #12 of 18

Okay, I see what you are truly wondering now. I work with many different chefs, hospitality and business management people. If you want to be in the field of pastry/culinary in some sort of way (even if just the business end) it really does help to have some background in work experience or schooling under your belt. Most tend to respect those who've payed their dues sweating over a hot stove or with hand cramps from piping more than those with just a business degree. (Hate to phrase it like this, a business degree is also very important but to most chefs it's the 'How long have you been doing this?" that counts.)
In the long run my advice would be to do both the baking program and the business program. You will be able to utilize what you learned in the baking program more than what you think you will with the business. Certain things will be more real and make more sense.
If you are not happy with the program you are learning now, change schools. Just make sure to do lots of research first. Lots of schools pair things together. I have a culinary skills and business management degree that I earned together at the same time since that's what the course outlined.

Good luck in whatever you decide. Just do what's right for you whatever that may be.

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salokin Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 3:08am
post #13 of 18

Thing is I'm not looking to work with other chefs. I would be going to school to open my own shop. Any jobs I get between now and the time I open my own place would just be to get some money to pay rent and save some here and there for the shop. Those jobs could be anything from walmart to working at a hospital, anuthing that would pay rent.

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mkolmar Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 3:44am
post #14 of 18

If you want to try to work in certain areas you have to have some form of culinary. A hospital is one of those. The great thing about the field is that you will always have a job, the bad thing is that there are tons of other people in the same field shooting for the same job. Basically if you are trying to save money up for your own business you are only going to start out at entry level jobs, this is usually even after a degree. This means entry level pay which will make it hard to save. When starting a business you need to be prepared to make no profit for at least 1-2 years. Most businesses fail before they start because of not having enough saved up and they are hardly breaking even, and this is when business is going well. You have to be prepared for all the bills not just the rent, this includes car insurance for your business (3x higher for a business car), payroll, lights, gas, rent, loans for equipment...etc.
If you truly want to save money you might be better of saving up working another field (not sure what your job is or what the pay is) Working entry level jobs in pastry don't pay much.
Try to get in well with chefs. They will give you a world of information about running a business that you probably haven't thought of. Also, you will realize that it helps with networking with vendors and getting your name out also the better in you are with them. I get a discount rate with a few vendors because of the chefs association I belong too.

Sorry to get a little off the subject. There is a ton more factors since you want to run a business. I would suggest you start talking to as many business owners, pastry chefs, cake decorators, loan officers...etc, just to get an idea of what you should do. Really investigate and think things through before you decide to leave school. What information you get will help you decide if it's worth staying in pastry school or leaving and going straight to business school.

I don't want to sound like you have to go to pastry school to run a successful business. You don't. I think it just helps to be a little more well rounded if you don't have at least a few years experience in the field.

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salokin Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 4:29am
post #15 of 18

Looking at my college's class catalogue, I found that if I go for just 3 more months I can get a baker's diploma and go back home earler. Then I could take business classes at night while working during the day to save money and to be able to pay rent. Does that ound like a good idea?

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Ruth0209 Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 4:29am
post #16 of 18

First, as a previous poster pointed out, you need to stop worrying about disappointing your family at your own expense. The ONLY reason to pursue higher education is to achieve the goals you have for yourself. It's YOUR life to live.

If you feel you already have the decorating skills you need to make great cakes, it may not be a good use of your time or money to continue with the program you're in. When I investigated pastry schools, I was disappointed to see the small amount of time most of the programs spend on cake design and decorating techniques. Many extremely successful cake designers are self-taught, although I think an understanding of the chemistry of baking is very helpful in taking your baking to an expert level.

Based on my own experience, and from reading the many, many posts from lots of people here on CC who struggle with their cake businesses, my observation is that it is not because they don't know how to bake and decorate cakes. It's more often because they lack good, solid business knowledge and skills to successfully operate a small business. It may be a good idea to move to that part of your planned schooling now.

I agree with a previous post that the "counselors" at a lot of colleges these days are primarily sales people. They want your tuition. You may have a career counselor at your school who can give you unbiased advice, but keep in mind that they'll probably try to keep you there.

A better resource might be a volunteer from SCORE. These are mainly retired business people who volunteer through the Small Business Administration to give free advice to people who want to have their own small business. I recommend you check and see if you have a local SCORE office (I think you can Google SCORE and your state) and get some advice from a business person. These folks were tremendously helpful to me when I started my cake business. Good luck!!

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saffronica Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 6:07am
post #17 of 18

I got my degree in art with a business minor, and the business classes I took are far more valuable to me than the art classes (though they were a lot more fun!). After college, I worked for a full-service bakery selling wedding cakes and running the office; I learned a lot about running a business that I never could have learned in classes. I also learned just how hard the owners worked to keep that business going -- and this was after they'd been running the business successfully for many years; it was much harder at first. After all of that, I still don't feel prepared to start a business, though I do have that in mind as a long-term goal (I learned a lot about decorating, too, but I still have a long way to go there!).

Your idea of getting your bakery diploma and then going on to study business is a good one -- and try to get some experience in the field, too. I don't know what kind of work experience you have, but it is every bit as valuable as an education, if not more so. I really think you'd benefit from a combination of good education and solid experience, even if it means putting off your dream of starting a business for a few years.

Whatever you decide, know that you can always come to Cake Central for help! Good luck.

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CakesByJen2 Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 1:55pm
post #18 of 18

While you don't have to have a degree to open your own business, you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket, either. All of us slightly older folks can tell you that life seldom works out as planned. Many people end up doing something completely different from what they think they are going to do when they first start college, for a variety of reasons. Interests change, job market changes, responsibilities change, etc. I know my life and career are nothing like what I had planned out when I started college.

Even if your goal is to open your own business, you need to be employable because you never know what will happen. Some type of degree or certification is almost always needed to be employable in anything other than minimum wage jobs. And business classes would definitely be helpful if you do open your own business. Computer skills are also important for getting a job, and also very helpful in running any business.

It sounds like you are just in the wrong program. If I were you, I'd finish whatever it took to get some type of degree out of it if you are close, and in the meantime, figure out what program would be the right fit, whether it's a better culinary program, business, hospitality, whatever. As far as for cake decorating, most people are primarily self-taught. Pastry school will teach the baking part, but not really the decorating. Many of the best cake decorators have a fine arts background, so you might want to consider some art classes, too.

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