18 years old with credit private, starting ATP in a week

Good morning everyone!! I hope you’re all doing well.

First off, I’d just like to say a big thank you to the mentors on here for your time, it is valued and you’re all doing a lot to help push us towards our goals, and I’m very appreciative.

But, I have one question unique to my situation that I’d like some guidance on:

  • So, I’m 18 years old and currently hold a private pilot certificate that I earned last year at 17, so I met the eligibility requirements to come into ATP’s credit private program right out of high school. I start a week from today and according to the timeline that ATP gave me for finishing the program, I’ll still finish the program well before I turn 19, giving me a few years to work as a CFI before I hit my 1500 hours and can go to the airlines with my R-ATP at 21. With that in mind, I understand that if I work how I usually do for the next few years, I’ll have my hours before I even come of age to get my R-ATP, so I’m looking for something else I can do to build some more time, and make me a more competitive candidate for the airlines when I do apply. So far, I’m thinking about earning a business degree through an accredited online program, such as WGU, on the side while I work as an instructor. I figure since I can test out of classes and I have full flexibility with when I can work on my degree, I could definitely get it finished before I turn 21 and need to submit an application. (However, this is all information I found from other people who finished the online program in this timeframe, and while I believe them, I could be wrong as far as how long it would take ME to finish it, but I do plan on making it a priority along with time building as an instructor)

  • My big questions are:
    1. Do you think at my current age, it’s possible to finish the degree, and meet the hour requirements for the regionals at 21?
    2. Would the airlines possibly look at my 4-year degree from an accredited online program and consider it to be “less” than say another applicant with an equivalent degree but from an in-person college?

If those questions aren’t in any of your expertise, it’s no problem. I figured I would just throw it out there since I have this resource available to me.

Thank you much!!

-Ethan Gregerson


That really comes down to you. Some may be able to handle the workload. I would say most could not. I think it would actually make more sense to wait on the degree once you are at a regional. Your students will need you to be available full-time and it won’t look good if you weren’t able to fly with a student because you were busy taking a test or finishing an assignment.

An online degree is not seen as “less than.”



  1. While possible all I’m hearing from your post is how much of a hurry you’re in and looking for shortcuts. You say “I do plan on making it a priority along with time building as an instructor”. That’s the thing about a priorities, it’s really difficult to have more than one. I can tell you if you’re thinking about training with ATP it’ll be very challenging to do both and ultimately one will suffer. My question for you is what’s the hurry? You don’t need a degree for the Regionals and could easily start while you’re instructing with a light class load and continue while at a Regional. You need to understand the reason you need 1500hrs isn’t simply to check a box, it’s to build QUALITY time and experience so you can be a safe and competent pilot. This is not a race.

  2. Many people get online degrees these days. They’ve become the norm and are viewed in the same light as traditional schools for the most part. I’m not familiar with WGU but at a quick glance they talk about “competency-based learning”. Not sure exactly what that is but it sounds like another shortcut. If I’m on the hiring panel and read your resume all I’m hearing is a guy that was trying to set a speed record vs someone wanting to be the best pilot and student they could be.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with your plan, you just need to focus more on reaching your goals by gaining skills and knowledge and less on your timeline.



I looked up WGU and to be honest, it seems a bit dicey to me. An online education is okay, but it needs to be from a respected college. I would check out Utah Valley University. With your associates degree and the credits you could get from flight training, you might be really close to getting a degree from them and they are a well respected school.

Ahh, good thinking! That route makes a lot of sense. Since I’m not an instructor, I don’t really understand what the schedule is like, and I honestly don’t know yet if I will stay with ATP for instruction. But that option does make a lot of sense because I do agree that I’ll probably have a better idea of what my schedule will for sure be like.

Thanks so much for your time, and reply:)

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Thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate your time.

First off, I apologize if my post came off like that, but reading back I can see what you’re saying, so it was my fault in the way I conveyed it. My only goal during my private pilot certificate wasn’t to get it super fast, it was to be an excellent student and pilot, and I plan on carrying that same mentality to ATP and beyond. Safety and well-thought-out decisions are what I pride myself in as a pilot and I don’t plan on giving any of that up at any point.

Second, I actually didn’t know the regionals regularly hired pilots without a degree. It may be a unique personal situation, but most of the regional pilots I know have gotten hired on with a degree so I figured it would help to have that under my belt before I applied to an airline with an R-ATP. With that said, my circle is relatively small and I’m actually glad to hear that you don’t need one for a regional airline.

As said before, thanks so much for the response and your time!! I’m very excited to start this journey and your help is pushing my decision making in the right direction.

Thanks for your opinion. My research on WGU is limited, as I’m focusing on my flight training right now. But thanks so much for the link, UVU looks awesome and I’ll be deep diving into some of the information right now!