Admissions :)

Hello All! I am currently a Junior in high school and am planning on pursuing my aspiration to become an airline pilot when I graduate in 2025. Unfortunately, I do not have my PPL, and most likely would not be able to get it until 2025, nor do I plan on attending college. I am a high honors student, participate in many extracurriculars and sports, and have 2 years of work experience. However, I also understand how competitive ATP admissions can be, and I was hoping someone could offer advice on how to make my chances of acceptance stronger. I do not think I will be able to pay for a PPL out of pocket when I graduate and currently, I am depending on the idea of the Sallie Mae loan. Is it worth it to take out a personal loan to get my private, and then reapply to ATP and take out a student loan?


Soooo you’re basically asking how can you get into ATP without meeting the current entry requirements. The short answer is you can’t.

The fact is most students right out of HS simply aren’t ready for the rigors or pace of the program and fail miserably. ATP will sometimes make an exception if someone has their PPL but there’s not guarantee of that. Whether you should get yours or not is up to you but know there is no guarantee of admission even with it.


The requirements are listed that if you’re a recent graduate you can qualify if you have above a 3.00 GPA. I have a 3.7, is this qualification no longer acceptable? I was just wondering if something like a cadet program would make me a better candidate? I just thought maybe people who know a bit more about the aviation world knew of opportunities that I did not. Thanks Adam for your quick reply!

It does say that. It also states:
Note that admission to ATP is extremely competitive, and meeting the criteria above does not guarantee acceptance.

Again, currently ATP wants either your PPL or a degree (at a minimum). The reason (again) is they don’t want to waste your time and money or take a slot away from someone (with what their 40yrs of experience has demonstrated) has a better chance of success. They list the HS GPA for rare exceptions, the same way Major airlines don’t list a degree requirement but still prefer one and list it as a “competitive” requirement.

Btw, I’m one of those people who know a bit more about aviation and what would make you a better candidate would be a degree or your PPL.


I appreciate your response! I am in no way questioning your credibility as a pilot, and understand you are well education in the aviation field. Out of curiosity, what path did you take to become a pilot and do you wish you would have done anything different? Do you think that if i dedicate this next year of my life to studying and taking the written test, volunteering or working at a local airport, or enrolling in CAP, ATP would overlook the lack of a degree or PPL? ( I know that you may not be familiar with the specific enrollment process, but I genuinely would like too know your further thoughts). Thanks again and I do not mean to ignore what you say, I just want to be 100% sure that I am seeing all of the options and possibilities. Thank you for your patience.


I didn’t get the sense you were ignoring me and I apologize if I have that impression.

This is really a conversation you should have with ATP admissions as only they can tell you for certain. That said I think this is a good opportunity to point out how things work in aviation. The FAA and the airlines set minimum standards and they must me adhered to. If the the FAA says you must have 1500hrs to earn your ATP they mean 1500hrs. There’s no 1499 but you’ve got 1000 turbine etc. It’s 1500, period. Same goes for the airlines. If the Flight Ops Manual says you must use autobrakes on a landing and you don’t and you go off the end of the runway. They’ll be no discussion that “we were light, winds were strong, etc etc”. It’s either by the book or it’s not.



Welcome to the forum. A few things to consider here, you will not be a strong applicant to ATP with your future credentials as you describe. “Work experience” means actual full time employment, not side jobs during high school.

The best thing you could do would be to attend at least two years of college, preferably four. The major airlines all prefer four year degrees and as things tighten up, we will likely see degrees becoming important again.



There’s a reason ATP has set prerequisites for candidates to make, and we recommend you try to meet all of them, if possible, for the best chance at acceptance. If you are not interested in getting a degree right now, I recommend maybe attending an accredited college (in-person or online) and completing some college coursework. While this may not be the best solution, it may open your eyes into a field for a backup plan if something in aviation falls through. The other thing is if the “pilot shortage” is truly slowing down, you are going to want make yourself stand out against other interview candidates.

For now, focus on getting good grades in primary education and sincerely think about secondary. The only question I have for you is, do you have any flight experience? You’re pretty dead set on doing this, but haven’t answered that question yet.



A PPL is more expensive than coursework at a local community college. I’d plan on doing at least your Associates then you can try and apply. If you don’t get in, you can either complete the rest of the requirements for the bachelors degree on a budget or get your PPL. I’d recommend finishing the degree because that will help you not only get in to the program but later when applying to the majors.