ATP straight out of high school?

Hello, I’m currently wrapping up my senior year in high school. For the ATP admissions requisites it states that those starting from zero need an associates degree or equivalent. However, those with their private pilot’s does not state this. Does this mean it’s possible to begin ATP training straight out of high school if I’m in possession of my private pilot’s and required flight hours?

Yes, you are correct. PPL with 78+ hours of total time.


I also have this question. Is transferring my ppl recommended right out of high school? I know two students that went to ATP and did this, (before the rules of ppl, 2 years of work, or an associates is required to start ATP) And they both became charter or private jet pilots instead of taking the CPI job with ATP. I guess the concerns I have are other people being there that are my age which I’m not super worried about but my parents are. Also if getting your ratings beats going to college right out of high school.


We’re very clear on this subject. While ATP will allow you to enroll right after HS with your PPL it’s not the route we suggest. The fact is you’re still very young and the program is very intense. Further you’re still in school mode, you will need a degree and frankly you don’t know if flying is actually going to work out for you. If it doesn’t you don’t have much of a backup.

Ultimately the decision is yours.


Ok. I understand the whole backup plan thing. I plan on going back to an online degree afterI get my foot in the door with a regional. for a backup plan and using my ratings as transfer credits. I have also been looking into other programs at different schools that offer all of your ratings like ATP does.
So If I am just trying to get to a regional first, and I don’t need a degree doesn’t it make sense to just get my ratings first, start building time as a cfi, and simultaneously get an online degree?


Again it’s your decision but there’s alot of if’s in the above. Listen ATPs a business and would love to sign you up and take your money but there’s a reason they require the PPL, the school or the work experience prior. They didn’t always have the requirement and they found far too many students right out of HS simply weren’t ready or have the maturity for the program and washed out.

While you’re correct you could start working on your degree while at a Regional, getting a 4yr degree, even with credit for your ratings again requires a tremendous amount of discipline.

Again your call. Also you don’t mention any flight experience? Before you throw away college and dive in head first to flight training, you really need to take an intro flight or a lesson. It’s not the same as sitting in the back going to Disney.


I understand. I have 15 hours and am just about ready to solo. I know this is what I want to do I am not going to change my mind. I’ve dreamt about this since I was a kid. That’s why I am thinking going to a career pilot program school is best for me. I get my flight time, start working as an instructor, go back for my bachelors with around 50 transfer credits, (and still might be under 21,) and get my degree in aviation from Libertys awesome online program in about 1.5-2 years. The only concerns I really have are the pilot shortage being over when I am finished school. But that’s why I feel I should go get my ratings and sign on with regional ASAP. I think you point of view is a good one though because I don’t have a backup. But i don’t feel like I will be changing career paths.


As I said this is a decision for you and your parents. Unless something catastrophic happens the pilot shortage won’t end anytime soon and should be the least of your worries but that does beg a question?

What would you do if there was no shortage? Would you not become a pilot? If there wasn’t a job waiting for you immediately after would you quit?



While it is not the path that we typically recommend, your path should work and is one of the fastest ways to get into the airlines and start building seniority. Just make sure that you go back and actually finish your college degree at some point.


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I would still go to be a pilot, but if there for some reason becomes no shortage, and there are more pilots than routes and planes to fly, then I would worry about regionals starting To require a bachelors so that they can ensure they would hire the best pilots in the market. In that case, I’d for sure go to college first.

Ok. And yeah I plan to go get my bachelors at some point. Thank you both for the insight I appreciate it. Making this decision is tough because there are a few different ways to go about being a pilot

Hmmmm, there’s something to think about…


I know going to a university would probably breed a better quality pilot, but I feel as if I study hard enough myself, I have the same ability to accomplish what a university would teach. Plus I still would go back for an online degree after so it’s not like I’m completely skipping college. Also, unless I’m missing something, it seems way smarter financially to go get the ratings first at a career pilot program or local mom and pop, and then use that as transfer credits to get around half of your degree. Instead of going to college, paying full price for all the courses, and then going to pay full price for all your ratings. I feel like it’s an obvious choice but there are a lot of successful pilots that think college first is better. I just don’t see the benefits of college first. I’m stuck at a crossroad on what to do, because my parents wasn’t me to go to a university that has a good aviation program, but I’d rather go get my ratings and use it as transfer credits. I feel very stuck making this decision.

I find myself in the same dilemma. This is something that you have to sit down and really think about as it is a big commitment either way. I have been accepted to various aviation universities and non-aviation universities to keep my options open. My recommendation is don’t put all your eggs in one basket. While it may be cheaper financially, there is a lot of downside to going to ATP out of high school. You will not be able to experience college like many others. You are forfeiting the opportunity to make lifelong friends and connections and having that 4 year transition into adulthood, maturing along the way. Ultimately it’s you and your parents’ decision on what’s best for you. I’m still contemplating on what’s best for me. Regardless, getting your PPL before you graduate high school is a good idea either way.

I’m not so worried about the maturing thing. I’ve grown up with kids a lot older who has good head on their shoulders and went to the military. So I grew up around good people. I don’t think I necessarily will go to ATP, but rather a school where I can do an accelerated ratings program where I can get all my ratings. Blue line aviation in North Carolina has a 5 month career pilot program to get all your ratings, and I’ve heard the instruction is a lot better than ATP and its on time. I prefer to get to the regional’s quick, and I truly feel this is the best way to do it.


Again you’re decision. As for Blue Line and you hearing their instruction is alot better than ATPs I’m curious what you’re basing that on and I respectfully have to disagree. ATP has been training pilots for the airlines twice as long as you’ve been alive and has placed more pilots with the airlines the past 12mos than Blue Line has EVER in their existence. There’s not a single ATP rated or airline pilot in their organization nor anyone with any airline experience in any capacity. They state on their website “you CAN complete all your training in as little as 5.5mos”. Doesn’t mean you will. There are many people who complete ATPs program in less time but ATP doesn’t advertise based on the one person who did that. They state average and realistic time lines. They also don’t require your PPL or anything else to start. They’ll gladly take your money. ATP prides themselves on being responsible. After 30 plus years they’ve learned that people out of HS more often than not are unsuccessful but you clearly don’t want to hear that.

I also know you won’t appreciate the next thing I’m going to say but it’s true. Many Major airlines require you to write an essay or fill out a report to demonstrate your communication skills. I’ve read your posts and frankly you’d benefit from a some more education.



I understand. But then if I go to a university, shouldn’t I just go to that colleges flight school and get my ratings simultaneously? Liberty univ offers an aeronautics degree and you can get your ratings at the same time.

I just really feel like I know what I want to do and I feel like it’s going to flight school right away, and getting my foot in the door with a regional. I feel like or would be a waste to not take advantage of the regional shortage because it may not be there forever. And I understand about ATP being better than BL. I also understand why most think it’s important to go to college first, to have that backup if something goes wrong. I love flying and this is what I want to do, so it’s going to take me a lost medical to quit.

I love the idea of going to ATP, fly everyday, and learn everyday about flying. Plus, I get my ratings, half of a degree, a flight instructor job, and I can start building my time and go get my online degree at the same time. In about 2.5 years I have everything I need, with no wasted time. I just feel as if this is the most logical way. But it seems everyone in this industry I talk to has different opinions. I wish this choice was easy because I think about it 24/7.

I know two family friends who have gone to ATP at 18 years old and got through and they share that same passion and drive that I do for flying.

I think what is making me confused is why everyone is recommending ATP after college and making it seem like it is magically easier if I have my degree. I will go back for my degree after ATP so I don’t get what the big deal is about doing them in a non traditional order to save some time and money.
(And about the English thing, I am using swipe type on an iPad lol)

Also, what are your thoughts on Libertys Flight Affiliate program? Basically, you can get an online Bachelors in aviation, while completing your flight time at a selected local airport, (which I have one about an hour from my house) and you get the restricted ATP 500 hours discount. The degree can be completed online in 2.5 years average. But is this recommended to do flight training and online college are the same time, even if it’s through the same school? And is an aviation degree worth it? I feel like if I lost my medical, there’s not much I could do with an aviation degree because it is pretty much for people who want to be pilots.
Sorry for so many questions. I just really want to make the best decision that is most worth my time and money.


Don’t be sorry. This is a major life decision, it’s important and yes EVERYONE has a different opinion. It’s clear you have a path set in your mind.

I agree, I’ve never been a fan of aviation degrees unless they’re done after the fact and you’re already flying. Listen, we’re here to offer advice based on our experience in the industry and the things we’ve seen. If you’re confident this is the path that’s next for you and your parents are on board then who are we to say no.

If/when it comes down to flight schools I would however encourage you to look hard at ATP. Nothing against Blue whatever but they just appear to be the next flight school to cash in on the pilot shortage. LONG before there was a shortage ATP pioneered the Airline Career program. It was designed by pilots to train pilots and because of the structure ATP heads were getting hired when few others were.

Whichever path you choose you clearly have a passion for your profession and I wish you success.


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When I was looking at what colleges to go to I looked into a few universities that had aviation degrees to get your ratings, and my issue with the way they are structured is that you only get like one rating a year. Year one you get your PPL, year 2 your IR and so forth. While aviation universities may have really good ground lessons taught possibly by highly paid professors, the pace of one ratings year just seemed to slow to me.