Is $30K worth it?

I'm sure you've pondered this scenario a few times: "Should I shell out thousands of dollars to go to culinary? Or should I just start working in a kitchen? I'll be making the same low wages when I start out whether I go to school or not."

I don't have an answer for you.

If forced to, I'd say it depends on you. I love attending culinary school and it's been a good fit for me. Don't get me wrong; I still have doubts about taking out $30,000 in loans. But for me, culinary school fits my learning style and I'm considering culinary careers outside of the kitchen. Plus, the French Culinary School has a lot of connections and resources for finding employment in New York City.

When I've talked with professionals in the kitchen, the answers are mixed. Some regret having gone to culinary school and have told me to save my money. I've read about students who graduate with too much debt to repay (like I will next year) and how they struggle to get by on salaries that can barely support them.Others say that if you preserver that the salaries get better. Some believe the formal training can move you ahead sooner.

Either way, I've quickly learned that you have to be passionate about this field if you want to work in the kitchen. The work isn't always glamorous and even for celebrity chefs, it's not always as easy as you'd think. A number of my chefs at school have impressed with their dedication. They expect a lot of themselves and us.

What are your thoughts? What have you heard?