Mentor Minute: Scholarships Found In Broad Daylight

Money is tight these days. Yet scholarships for culinary school can be found. It takes digging and perseverance. A scholarship or grant may be waiting for you right now. But no one is going to hand it to you. Unless you ask for it, you have virtually no hope of grabbing it.

“Concentrate on researching the organization that offers or administers the kind of scholarship you want,” advises Dan Traster, former academic director of culinary arts at The Art Institute of Washington in Arlington, VA. “For instance, the National Restaurant Association promotes the entire restaurant industry, and does so by considering applicants who want to be managers, dieticians and marketers as well as cooks and pastry chefs.”

I know this is true as I’ve written many, many reference letters for students seeking additional scholarships and grants while they were still in school. It may seem obvious but it bears repeating: when you apply for scholarships:

  • Read the fine print. It is important to show you are really serious about continuing to stay or switching to the culinary field, won’t change your mind and drop out if you find the work too hard or if it fails to live up to your expectations. Don’t waste your time applying for a scholarship for high school grads when you already have a bachelor’s degree.
  • Check the scholarship deadlines for applications and allow plenty of time to meet them.
  • Look at more than one school and study their scholarships and grant programs carefully. Ask what kinds of scholarships they offer; how many are available, and what you have to do to get one.
  • Follow the instructions on the application form carefully, and answer every question. Reviewers say many applicants are refused simply because the applicants left some questions blank.
  • Be realistic. If you are asked to write an essay  describing your goals, it is best to say that you are starting out and hope to find a job as a line cook in a restaurant rather than suggest that you want to start your career as a consultant Chef Thomas Keller or Emeril Lagasse.

“In other words,” says Traster, “focus on an achievable goal and explain how the scholarship will help you to meet the goal.”

You may want to go to Italy to study food of a specific region.  That is a reasonable and understandable purpose and there are organizations that offer scholarships for just such a purpose. You may receive a grant that will give you enough funds to stay alive while working as an unpaid intern in a food television show or segment.

Scholarships are available but you have to work hard to get your hands on the big prize money. Grants and scholarships have recently been offered by these culinary organizations: