Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Apparently I need to calm the hell down

Yesterday I got an email from my culinary school that contained some disturbing info about my upcoming "full-time" Baking and Pastry Program:

I am sure you are getting excited about getting started with your class in January!  We are looking forward to working with you.  As always here at New School we are constantly making changes and adjustments to our classes and programs in an effort to improve both content and delivery.  The main source of feedback is from students and we gather this information primarily from surveys.  Based on what our students have told us over the past year we have decided to make what we view as positive adjustments to the program that you are starting in January-this effects both culinary arts and baking and pastry.

New Schedule:
Classes will meet Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays from 9:30am-2pm
Special Classes meet on Wednesdays (farmers market, preserving, butchering, wine)
Cost & Payment Schedule:
9000.00 and includes all materials and supplies.  There will be no additional charges.

We are going to invoice you 3 times over the course of the program. You have already registered so your payment will cover the 1stpayment and you have a credit balance of 167.00.

Payment #2-Due January 6th 2083.00
Payment #3-Due March 1st 2250.00
Payment #4-Due May 1st 2250.00

If you choose to participate in the Food Handler’s Program or are required by an employer to obtain a Food Handlers Card we recommend Western Food Safety as our preferred provider.  If we can meet the minimum we can schedule the class at the school.

Please contact me directly with any questions or concerns.  We will announce the December student orientation date in the next few weeks. 

It was a huge shock, for a number of reasons. First, it came completely out of the blue. I was never asked for feedback; I suspect it came more from prospective students who wanted to participate but couldn't commit to either the full-time schedule or to the cost. Or both. Not to be unsympathetic, but that's not my problem. Nobody asked me for feedback, they just sent the email, all cheery like it's not much of a change, or an actual improvement.

For some reason I had looked at the schedule a few days earlier and noticed they still had slots open. I figured there would be a last minute rush to fill. It's a big commitment and people are busy with the upcoming holidays. I wasn't worried about it filling up. Apparently the school did not share my optimism.

I had originally signed up for the summer Baking & Pastry session (which was three days per week), then delayed it until January because that's when it was being expanded to five days to match culinary, plus they were expanding the hours from five to six per day. I've spent the second half of this year waiting for it and planned to spend the next six months immersed in it. I made plans around this program. If they hadn't promised me full-time, I'd be a little over a month away from graduation.

I really freaked out when I calculated the difference in hours: From 30 to 13-1/2 per week. That's a huge cut. All I could think of was, how much of the originally planned program - which they apparently thought was important enough to expand to full-time - was I going to miss out on? And the difference in tuition hardly matches up to the reduction in hours. I could have taken the three days per week program over the summer for $6,500.

In addition, all the stuff in the Wednesday "special classes" are things we covered in culinary (ditto ServeSafe). I don't need to pay to do them again.

And culinary's getting cut too. I know how slammed we were doing five hours per day, five days a week. What are they going to be missing out on? If it's all so important, what are they going to cut?

I was stunned. I kept re-reading the email, hardly able to process it. Anyway, with all that shock, anger and frustration worked up, I did the one thing I probably shouldn't have done: I got on social media and bitched about it.

So of course someone at the school saw my Facebook meltdown and alerted the owner. I was still in a foul mood today when my phone rang. When I looked at the area code, I assumed it was my brother and picked up. It was the owner of the school. Nope, not awkward at all.

He was very nice and apologetic about it, admitting that maybe they should have called to alert people of the changes before sending the email. I explained that I was upset because I had been looking forward to it so much and really wanted to immerse myself in it. I didn't mention the "student feedback" issue because I thought it might sound defensive or combative and the call went really well. It turns out that I had misunderstood, that it's four days per week, not three. He also told me that instead of just pounding through the week, Wednesday's are going to be for special projects or something like that. And I certainly wouldn't mind another trip to the Cheese Store, if they're willing to let me tag along.

They're giving us shorter days and three-day weekends, and that actually is understandable, because full-time culinary was exhausting (albeit a good exhausting at least in my opinion). I can see where it could be a real grind if you have other things to deal with. I guess not everyone was looking forward to the program taking over their life.

So, of course I felt like an idiot, but I feel better about it. I can live with four days, although I don't like the shortened days (from 6 hours to 4-1/2) for baking and pastry, because you might be able to rush through cooking, but you can't really do that for baking. But their pastry chef is unbelievable and I'm really looking forward to studying with her, so four days is better than three. 18 hours per week is still a big drop from 30, but it's also a big improvement over 13-1/2, plus it explains why the tuition didn't drop more and is higher than summer.

I still can't help re-reading that email though. I would have worded that a lot differently. It makes me wonder if they got complaints from some of the other people who had already signed up for full-time.

Anyway, crisis averted, I guess.

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