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Frequently Asked Hospitality Management Questions


Questions Concerning Admissions
Questions Concerning Careers
Questions Concerning College Life
Questions Concerning the Program


Questions Concerning Admissions:

How do I apply?
American River College is a California Community College, with an open enrollment policy. Classes fill on a first come, first serve basis, with priority registration dates being given to returning students. The application process and registration can be completed on-line, or in person at the college in the e-services center. For more information on the application process, click here.

What does the program cost?
As a California Community College the fees are charged per unit, and determined by the California Legislature.  For a list of current fees, click here. Parking is an additional nominal fee, and each class will require the purchase of books, and possibly uniforms or tools.

Are there any additional costs or lab fees?
The Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program does not charge a lab fee for any of the lab classes. Costs for these classes are covered by the income generated by the Oak Café and the Catering class. Because these lab classes are expensive to run, and no lab fee is charged we do request that students occasionally assist in working catered events.

Laboratory classes will require that the students purchase both a uniform and tools. The same uniform is used for all lab classes, and will be discussed on the first day of class. The cost is about $30. All students in hot food classes will need to bring their own knives to the kitchen (which is consistent with working in industry.) The exact requirements will also be discussed on the first day of class, and can be purchased from our purveyor for $100, although the students may create their own kit from any source. These knives will be used in all lab classes and the Oak Café. Those students in the baking courses will also need to purchase a tool kit, again either from our purveyor ($100) or from an outside source. These also will be discussed the first day of class, and are used for all baking classes and you will find them helpful when working in industry.

Is financial aid available?
The Financial Aid Office is located in the Student Services Building, and administers financial aid in accordance with federal and state regulations and national policy. Funds are distributed to students who have documented financial need determined by the total resources available to them. The Financial Aid Office can assist you in determining the types of financial aid that may be available to you, which may include grants, student loans and scholarships.

Can I attend only at night?
The program offers a great number of classes in the evenings. All of the introductory courses are offered in the evenings (Baking currently only in the Spring Semesters.) Some of the advanced classes, however, are only offered during the day, and will not be offered in the evenings in the future. The examples are the Oak Café Class, as well as the Professional cooking class. Typically, students who are looking for evening only classes begin by taking the introductory classes to determine whether or not this is in fact an industry in which they feel they can succeed. At that point, many students will enter the industry, which allows for more flexibility in their schedules and allows them to complete the program.

The classes are full and I'm on the wait list, what should I do?
Stay on the wait list, weeks before a class begins, some people may drop, and those on the wait list are advanced into the class as space becomes available. If you are still on the wait list when classes begin, show up to the first class. Many instructors will add additional students to the classes. In the lab classes, if someone does not show up on the first day, they will be dropped and the instructor will add those who are on the wait list and are physically present at that time. In the lecture classes, while it is up to the individual instructor, many will add additional students on the first day of class.

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Questions Concerning Careers:

What kinds of jobs will I be able to get after graduation?
The hospitality industry is expanding rapidly, both in the nation and in the Sacramento area. While the industry continues to expand, the need for skilled labor continues to increase and the existing pool of potential employees continues to shrink. The industry is in desperate need of employees who have the necessary skills to serve the public, and / or can demonstrate basic proficiencies in kitchen skills. Employers are looking for employees to fill job opening in a variety of kitchen work environments, ranging from entry level to highly skilled artisans, as well as those who have the organizational, technical and interpersonal skills to serve the public in a front line service capacity.
The job that you will receive will be directly related to your skills, abilities and attitude. You will not be a Chef. (No culinary school will make you a Chef) A Chef is the leader and manager of a kitchen, and requires work experience above and beyond what any school can give you. However, the advantage of attending a culinary school is that it gives you a great deal of background, knowledge, and skills in short period of time. That will allow you to fast track your career once you begin working in the industry. That being said, you will likely begin your career as a line cook. We recommend that you begin that position prior to graduation, which will allow you to reach your professional goals more quickly. Many of our graduates have achieved the position of sous chef, chef or owner within only a few years of graduation.

What kind of pay can I expect after graduation?
Pay will vary greatly depending on your position and the type of organization in which you work. Typical line cooks make between $10 and $15 per hour. However, this is not the position you intend to keep forever. As you move up in the industry sous chefs may earn between $35,000 and $40,000 per year, and chefs may earn between $35,000 upwards of $60,000 or more. We do not want to create an unrealistic expectation for those looking to change careers. This is an industry that requires you have a passion for what you do. The joy you receive in doing your job will truly be part of your reward in the first few years. Do not let other schools lie to you and tell you that you will be rich immediately - it will not happen. But you can be very successful and you can make a great living, be able to support a family and enjoy what you do.

Will I be prepared to run my own restaurant after graduation?
Our initial reaction to this question is NO - and why would you be crazy enough to even want to. We recommend that you continue to hone your skills in a professional kitchen prior to opening your own establishment. However, we have had many successful students who have begun their own businesses after graduation. Typically they have been catering businesses and very successful. We would be happy to help you get in touch with some of these local business people if you are seriously considering opening your own business.

Questions Concerning College Life:

Where do I park, and how much does it cost?
Parking is available in parking lot "D", which is closest to the Culinary Arts and Hospitality classrooms. The daily fee is $1. However, if you are on campus more than 2 days a week, it is less expensive to purchase a semester parking pass from the business services office in the front of the administration building.

Does the college have housing?
American River College does not offer housing for its students. However, there are apartment complexes within walking distance of the campus, and the student services building has a board to help students find housing and room mates.

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Questions Concerning the Culinary Arts &
Hospitality Management Program:

How is the American River Program different from the private schools?
The first and most obvious difference between our program and a private school is the cost. Culinary education is not a service that requires quality to cost more. Students in the American River College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program will receive the same and often better education than can be offered at many private schools. The faculty in our program have all worked in the industry, running successful restaurants prior to teaching and many are still running quality and profitable businesses. The focus of our program is on job skills at a fine dining level. Advanced level classes remain small with very high standards. The student run restaurant has received 4 stars from the Sacramento Bee, been featured in AAA Via Magazine and Sunset Magazine.
We recommend that you speak with students from both a private school and the ARC program if you have serious questions about the differences and their experience.

What are the advantages of attending the American River College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program?
Standards within the program are very high. Students will graduate with job skills and understand the level of professionalism it takes to succeed within the industry. Our focus is on fine dining, with a philosophy based on quality locally grown ingredients. We believe we must teach to the high end of the industry. If a student then chooses to work in a midscale restaurant they will be able to adjust their skills and succeed as well. Our Oak Café creates a real world restaurant environment in which students will learn all aspects of running a restaurant, ranging from acting as Chef to Server. Catering opportunities also allow students additional hands on opportunities to learn and work with industry professionals.
Student success is, however, in the hands of the student. You must be dedicated to learning: read the material, do the homework, be prepared and open to learning and taking advantage of all of the learning opportunities that will help you to grow.

How large are the classes?
Class sizes are dependent on the type of class. Advanced classes are smaller, the Oak Café for example can range from 10 to 16 students. Lab classes range from 18 to 26 students. Lecture classes may be larger, ranging from 25 to 35 students.

Are there any on-line classes?
No, there are currently no on-line classes. Many of the classes are laboratory classes and require hands on learning.

Do you have job placement?
We do not have a formal job placement program. However, 95% of our students and graduates who are looking for jobs find them quickly. The industry is currently desperate for qualified employees, those with knife skills, basic cooking knowledge, a good work ethic and positive attitude. Additionally, we do have a job board in our class rooms, where we post openings as we are contacted by industry.

What is the difference between the A.A. degree and the certificate, and which is right for me?
The associate degree requires that the student complete not only the required courses within the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Department, but also the general education requirements of the College i.e., Math, English, Science etc. (Please see the ARC catalog or counseling department to find the current GE requirements.) The AA degree will assist you in becoming a more well rounded individual. Math, English and communication skills are vital to a higher level of business success. It will also assist you if you intend to continue your education by attending a 4-year university to receive a BS degree in Hospitality Management.
We offer several certificate programs, to help you reach your educational and professional goals. (You will find detailed information on both the degrees and certificates on our degree page.) If you have never worked in a restaurant, and are looking to get started, the certificates are a good first step in building your professional skill sets. The Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management Certificate will help you if you are looking to work in a kitchen. The Restaurant Management Certificate will assist you if you are looking for a promotion within the front of the house (or is a stepping stone to completing the larger certificate.) If your goal is to work in a bakery, we would suggest beginning with the Introductory Baking Certificate.

What classes should I take?
HM 100 Calculations in Foodservice, HM 300 Becoming A Chef, HM 310 Sanitation, Safety and Equipment and HM 315 Food Theory and Preparation are considered the introductory classes, with many of them being prerequisites to other classes. We suggest you look at the degrees web page to see the full list of classes required for graduation. Please keep in mind that some of the classes that are not required for graduation, may assist you personally in achieving your goals and can add to your breadth of knowledge and help you succeed.

What is The Oak Café?
The Oak Café is a student run fine dining restaurant that is open during the fall and spring semesters, serving lunch to the public Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. This cap stone class allows students to rotate through every position within the restaurant. The menu changes weekly, with students developing their own menus by the end of the semester. Reservations are required, and fill up quickly. Please visit our Oak Café web page for current menus, prices and reservation information.

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