It was a fluke how I got into cooking as a career in the first place, and better yet I did not incur any debt through student loans. I had just returned from a stint on the west coast and was visiting with my family for the holidays in near my home town in northern Ontario. A friend of my mother called her up to see if she could help out in the restaurant she owned for a few weeks, since one of her kitchen employees was out for surgery. I agreed to go help for a couple weeks, but enjoyed cooking in a commercial environment so much I stayed for several months.
The restaurant owner suggested I pursue higher education in the industry through an apprenticeship program, which I did through George Brown College in Toronto. The program required a mixture of classroom time and on-the-job training. While I was on the job, I got paid for the work I did like any other employee in the establishment. While I was in the classroom, I was given weekly compensation, similar to Unemployment Insurance. I had to buy all my own textbooks and personal cooking equipment, but it was no imposition on my consumer credit since I was earning money the entire 3 years it took me to complete the program.
Tips for Helping with College Spending
An apprenticeship program may not be your solution for a higher education, but there are other ways you can avoid the cost of student loans. You’ll have to be organized long before you are ready to attend college.
Get together with your parents and other adult members of your family at an early age and create a plan for setting money aside in a high interest account that is strictly used for your education. Get a part time job and make contributions to the fund. Your local banker will help you determine the type of account with the best ROI.
Work very hard while in school to get the best grades. You can apply for scholarships for certain programs when your grades are maintained at a certain level. Ask your school guidance counselor for a list of available scholarships.
Take the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). It is far cheaper than college tuition and depending on your college’s policy, you can get up to 12 college credits this way.
While in college, budget your money and don’t spend more than you have. Pay your credit card bills off in full each month. Go to the used book store for textbooks. Attend a community college for at least part of your program and then transfer. Stay at home if possible to reduce your living expenses.