About the ATP rigorous curriculum

Hey everybody,

Please take a minute to read this when you have a chance, or if you want, or you can comment tl;dr. I know it might sound like babbling and childish to even feel this way, but I want to try to show you where my current state of mind is at before starting at ATP.

A little information before I start typing the essay nobody asked for or wants to read…I’ve been planning, and preparing to start at ATP since November 2021. So yeah, it has been a minute, been a lot of back and forth, fighting with my feelings, thoughts, and trying to overcome my mind since it can play tricks on you. I know, the more you delay it and try to talk to yourself about doing it, the more likelihood you never will. I’m trying to overcome that because I don’t want to feel the regret later in life. I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I should have done differently, and felt like every place I’ve been in has been wrong for me, so moving forward I’ve been trying to get uncomfortable, and not make the same mistakes again because I can’t keep living with regret.

I’ve discovered this form a few days ago and have read a lot of great information so far. I’m really thankful for the kind of support that is within this community. It’s not cutthroat like many things out there, which is why I’m proud to be here and proud that I’m taking the necessary steps to become one of you; because like you, I want to help people, I love helping people, I want the next person to be better than me, I want them to make it, too.

I know that this question might have been answered a million times before, and that more than likely I have read many answers revolving this question somehow and somewhere, so please accept my apology in advance for having to ask this again.

Let me start off by saying this…I believe that anyone can adjust to a major workload and commit to job if it requires them 7 days a week. I guess it also depends how much you love what you do. I believe, at least for me, the hardest part about starting a career in aviation is the expense. To me, if ATP was only $50k, I would’ve started a long time ago without hesitation to say the least, but it’s not. I will be completely honest with you, I’ve read on some forms and heard from YouTube videos that at the end of the day, no matter where you get your certificate, it’s all the same in the end. If you have your ratings, and certificate, that’s all the matters, so why spend more? I’ve been even advised by a Captain to shop around first before committing to ATP. In reality, I wish it was that easy. I also appreciate and like what I’ve seen so far from ATP, whether it was on campus, or online. I see ATP as the Harvard of Aviation schools, I guess that’s a good thing. What works for me the most aside from the difference in curriculum approach as opposed to other schools, is the loan servicers and graceful options they present you with about the payments upon graduating…I couldn’t get something like that from a credit union or a bank. Nonetheless, I want a better education as well, and I want to part of this community, so it’s my choice to join ATP, knowing it’s going to cost my organs. Anyhow, I’ve been on two discovery flights, and even though I was a nervous wreck, after I left, I felt like I wanted to fly again, so I guess that’s what they call the flying bug?

To be honest, if you ask me why I want to become a pilot, I wouldn’t be able to give you a concrete answer. Here is what I’ll say and I’ll put it in bullet points to make it easy.
• I can’t work a desk job.
• There is nothing else I’d rather do.
• I hate it down here and it’s also getting worse.
• I want to have the best office view.
• Travel the world.
• See sunrises and sunsets thousands of feet in the air.
• Meet new people around the world, and co-workers.
• Operate big machinery (I’m a hands on kind of guy) and I like to control things.
• Be in a professional setting where no one is messing around and is always on the same page, hence that professionalism doesn’t change.
• I want to prove something to myself and my family.
• Most of all no matter how many times I see planes, whether on the ground, in the air, taking off, or landing, it’s always brand new to me, it’s always so fascinating, a breath of fresh air, freedom within arms reach, and amazed how something so big and heavy can fly so high.

Maybe I missed a thing or two, but hopefully this explains how I feel and why I want to get into flying. Is that enough reason for someone like myself to join the aviation industry?

I’ve read a lot everywhere, watched thousands of videos on YouTube, trying to find the one post or video, or a nonstop string information, hence that will prove validation that can convince me to do this, or better yet assure me that this is a rewarding path since it will be a financial burden for a long time. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that out of the countless of hours I’ve spend reading, and watching videos trying to figure out and or analyze whether to take on this career or not, the positive has outweighed the negative, but there is still that shadow of uncertainty that is still holding me down. But honestly, it’s been hard to answer yes or no to this career move even after the hours I spent researching about ATP and this career…I figured I just have to do it myself and figure it out myself. I can’t figure out why no matter how convinced and encouraged with so much excitement I become, and feel like starting tomorrow, there is always something that discourages and scares me away. You know, it could be a recent plane crash, or something like that…The financial part will probably never change as this will be the biggest debt I have and will probably ever take on. I know nothing is cheap, and nothing is easy. If you want to pave your own way, chase your dreams, and become somebody you chose and say you did it, there is no other way. This financial burden is no different than Doctors, or engineers to say the least. So, I get that part. A dream is not cheap and it is possible. It’s true, if you never try, you’ll never know and you will never forget that “what if,” which to me is a source of regret and that is something I want to try to avoid moving forward.

Now back to what I wanted to ask…I apologize for ranting on and on!

From the two different instructors whom I’ve had the pleasure of going on my first ever discover flights with, to people who have graduated from ATP, I have been told that this program is extremely rigorous and is no joke, but couldn’t give me a concrete outlook as to why. Ok, I can sacrifice not going to the gym as much as I did before, I can reduce family gathering, give up weekend sports, whatever the situation may be…But I just feel like the way I’ve been told how rigorous and serious this program is have rubbed off on me the wrong way…as I’ve been told there is quite likely a high chance of failure than anything, so join at your own risk.

I want to ask you…and please, once again I apologize if this is something you’re sick of answering.

What’s so rigorous about it? Is it that fact that you have to be available 7 days a week?

Does the material include a million pages to read? I personally hate reading so I’m crossing my fingers with that one. I’m more of a hands-on person than anything. Most of my learning and grasping the material comes from the experience of connecting with other people, or being there in person, doing the same thing over and over again, not sitting there and reading a million pages hoping to memorize it all. But I will read, and try to do what I need to do. I might skim through some information, so I hope that is ok.

You know, besides being organized and getting all the exams out of the way to be a head in the program and stuff, how do you ensure that you’re doing well in this program? Do you just have to be born to do this, while others who just don’t have that magic touch tend to fail and drop out of the program and feel the pain of finding a way to pay off the loan?

  1. A deep insight on what is so rigorous about this program would be helpful. Maybe showing pictures of what the actual homework looks like, or in writing explaining what a day or week of the ACTUAL course material looks like.

For example,
• What does check 1 look like? Does it require a thousand pages to read?
• Does check 2 only have videos to watch?

Just an example of what I’m looking for. I’ve read on the form that you have to be studying 24/7, even if you finished your assignments and whatnot.

Ok, I get it, but how do you route yourself to study anything further than what is required for your next flight?

  1. How do you know what to study to STAY studying just because that is what you’re told to do to succeed? Wouldn’t that be confusing and possibly knock you off a path that you’re supposed to be focused on?

  2. Is the rigorous part something that’s so repetitive like having to wake up at 5am and show up at 6am for an 8hr day, 7 days a week?

• What is it exactly? Do I have to read every book and manual ever created for aviation until my eyes start bleeding and somehow pray that I memorize it all otherwise I fall behind?

  1. What exactly is so rigorous? That has been somewhat of a nerve-racking statement to me since day one. I hope I’m not the only one feeling this way. Of course, I want to make it and I can say I will do everything in my power to make it, but it’s easier said than done, easier said before you’re actually in it, and that is also another point that has scared me in one way or another. I don’t want to fall behind; I don’t want to fail…Nobody does.

  2. Do you have to wake up on a no-fly day and start reading a thousand pages, take a quiz and make sure you fully understand every single detail for your next flight with your instructor or else you fall behind? Is that what’s rigorous?

I truly have looked around regarding this question and can’t find one simple answer. Maybe because there isn’t one, but I’m going take my shot on this form and hope to finally find an endgame to my question until I start this program.

I’m personally nervous about taking out about $110k in loan to cover the cost of this program and feeling like failing is quite possibly an option. I’ve been told but a graduate not to worry and to trust the process and that the instructor won’t allow you to fail and stuff like that…but, you know, everyone’s situation is different…

Have people actually wasted thousands of dollars on this program and left with nothing but debt? I’d also love some insight on that.

I want to succeed in this program and move forward to a career as an ATP. I want to feel like there will be support to succeed if you need it at ATP, not the feeling that you’re on your own and that it’s too bad you’re not getting it. Is that sort of opportunity available or are you just left to make it on your own, win or lose? Nobody wants that burden on their shoulders…this program isn’t cheap.

On a side note, what are the chance that everyone is offered an instructor position after graduating? In a perfect world, the economy is blooming, positions are always available, and everyone gets it. Isn’t that crucial to making $ to make ends meet and pay off that loan, but most of teach others and help others make it, and build time that is required for the airlines? Who is most qualified for the positions? The ones who land the best? The ones with the best grades? Shouldn’t everyone get it?

Thank you for taking the time to read all of this. I owe you guys lunch someday, or a picture from FL 390 like this :love_you_gesture:



  1. What’s so vigorous and challenging is the sheer volume of material and skills you’ll need to learn in a very short and finite time. ATP has accelerated what typically takes years and compresses into months. The answer to your question is D) all the above. There will be LOTS of reading, LOTS of videos, LOTS of sim and of course LOTS of flying. Everyone likes the flying part and no one likes the book stuff but they’re equally important and you can’t do one without learning the other. There is a fair amount of memorization but the more you understand the less you need to remember (if that makes sense) but to understand you again need to read ALOT.

  2. How you know what to study is the core of the program ATP created many decades ago. They will tell you what you need to study and learn. What they won’t do is spoon feed it to you. You’ll be given assignments, you’ll need to find the answers. There are also FAA exam guides which again tells you everything the FAA wants you to know. YOU need to find it and know it.

  3. Sometimes. It really depends on you. If you’re a good learner and have good comprehension and absorption frankly it won’t be that bad. If you don’t you’ll have to work harder.

  4. Answered

  5. Answered

  6. That’s a realistic fear. The reality is not everyone can or should be an airline pilot. Approx 20% of ATPs students do washout. Those that do will be refunded the balance of the program but they will most likely have some debt left over.

  7. The support is there but frankly ATP isn’t for everyone. ATP was design to simulate actual airline training which is heavily reliant on self study and motivation. If you can’t keep up at ATP, chances are you won’t make it at the airlines.

  8. With 75 locations nationwide ATP ALWAYS has instructor positions. What you should keep in mind is the jobs are not guaranteed and are only offered to students who do well in the program. Doing well means just that. Minimum checkride busts, good attitude, keeping up with the timeline, punctuality etc etc. Frankly it always makes me laugh when someone says “shouldn’t everyone get a position”. So let me ask you, you just started with ATP, invested $95k and you discover your instructor was someone who struggled with the program, had multiple busts, and a bad attitude by was guaranteed a position. You’re good with that right?


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  1. There are many posts in the “Student Experiences” section that detail people’s experiences, I recommend you check them out. It would be incredibly cumbersome and really impossible to show what a week’s worth of studying entails, we would have to send you the entire books. Suffice it to say that each day will involve signifiant online and book learning. If you have a dislike of reading you had better get over it as you will be studying via reading for the rest of your career as a pilot. There is no point in your career that will involve only watching videos.

  2. I am not sure what you are asking here. ATP provides the relevant material to study, it is up to you to do the studying and to motivate yourself to do so.

  3. No, this is not boot camp. Your times will vary. What makes this rigorous is the need to study a significant portion of everyday, to retain the information, and then be able to apply it in the airplane. You will not have to read every text, that would be impossible. You will need to read and retain several different books that ATP will provide to you.

  4. answered

  5. answered

You seem very uncertain about your ability to be successful in this program. It might be worth taking several lessons at your local school, going up to either soloing or even all the way to obtaining your PPL to make sure that this is something that you will be able to do.


Thank you for your responses.

Just to clear things up a bit, I guess what I meant to say was I don’t have as much patience to sit down and read as opposed to actually flying an airplane and being hands on. I understand, I’ll have to adjust to do what needs to be done in order to be successful. I’m okay with reading, and I do it on the daily. My only gripe is, I’ve had experiences in college where I’ve been asked to read so much and memorize almost everything (which to me isn’t a good way to teach anything), and I’m hoping this isn’t what ATP is like.

It’s not that I’m unsure if I’ll be successful, no. It is that I want this so bad that I want to make sure I’m prepared in every way possible.


Whether you think it’s a good way to teach or not, if/when you become a pilot you’ll learn about “limitations” and “memory items” that MUST be memorized. There are also a plethora of regulations you’ll be responsible to know and adhere to.

Again EVERYONE wants to sit at the controls and fly the plane. That’s the way easy part but to get there will require you do work harder than you ever have and most likely do things you don’t enjoy. Only you can decide if it’s worth it or not.


Get enrolled in a local flight school first and knock out 10-20 hours. Try to fly at least 3 times per week. Make sure you and the instructor have a good repertoire. If you truly get bit by the flying bug, keep building time with the school to earn your Private and Instrument. When you get to about 200 hours (most of which will have been on your own long after training ended), start looking at regimented schools like ATP that will take you to the finish line.


With all due respect, that’s some of the worst advice I’ve ever seen offered. Right now we’re in the middle of the most significant pilot shortage in history and you want to recommend someone waste a year or 2 (and alot of money) at their local flight school? Why?

Sure if someone is unsure and wants to take some lessons locally to see if this is really for them then by all means. But to waste all that time and money on a PPL and IR is ridiculous.


Most people have their mind made up after their first solo. Some decide to finish their PPL before transitioning to ATP and that’s fine too.

There is no incentive to obtaining an instrument rating outside of ATP if attending ATP is someone’s objective since ATP only has two entry points: zero time or PPL + 78hrs. Any time beyond that will go towards total time, but students should have their minds made up about attending ATP before obtaining anything beyond a PPL.


I am with Adam and Tory here, David’s advice is the worst I have ever seen dispensed on this website. To go all the way to 200 hours of flight time, then go back to flight school would be horrendously expensive and a total waste of time. Like I mentioned, take a few lessons if you wish, but to go all the way to getting your instrument rating at a local school makes zero sense.



Why do you say that?

Soloing is a confidence booster. Any doubts prior are usually settled afterwards.


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Plus, if you do something for 30-40 hours and still don’t know if you enjoy it, you might want to try something else!

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Eh… I gotta call BS on that one. I knew I’d enjoy the life, but the first 30-40 hours were nowhere close to the indication of what my career would be like. I promise you that. I don’t enjoy flying small aircraft. Not my thing. Flying jets has been awesome

I don’t know why I found this comment so funny. I was just scouring the forum at 1:00 A.M. after trying to learn holding patterns for the last two hours and I literally busted out laughing when I read this. “The worst advice I have ever seen dispensed on this website” is just cracking me up.

LOL, glad I could be of entertainment. As you can probably tell, we say it like it is around here.



This is something I feel like I was doing back in 2020 when I was a student, LOL. They can be difficult at first especially if they are taught strangely or in a personal manner. I always found it easier to sit down with multiple instructors to learn their ways and take which worked best for me.

I also recommend this app if you’re still struggling, it helped me: :point_down:t2:

The app was also great in using as an instructor myself when I could AirPlay it to the TV and do a ground with students, gave multiple students an opportunity to work individually/group wise to figure out an answer.


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