Embry-Riddle vs FBO/local options

Hello, my name is Grant and i’m a freshman at ERAU Prescott. I eagerly enrolled here with the intentions to get a degree (aeronautical science) as well as acquire all my hours and certifications to become an airline pilot. Being an airline pilot has interested me for a while and i made my decision to pursue a career in the airlines in my sophomore/junior year of high school because I am fascinated with flight, the lifestyle interests me, I have family and friends in the industry, and of course it can pay well down the line.

The 2.5 months I’ve been at Riddle so far have not lived up to expectations in the slightest. I know the school is very accredited and I’ve heard a lot of good things… really only from staff/alumni/people associated with the school. The living situation, food, campus life, college experience, etc is awful. I knew before hand this wasn’t a party school and wasn’t expecting that. I’m at Riddle to get a education and learn to fly/get my certification and hours.

After being here and not feeling entirely welcome, being enrolled in all classes I feel take no skill to teach or to learn (freshman classes are kinda like this i know) I decided to start looking around at other options, reading about more student experiences here, talking to pilots I meet at phoenix sky harbor and DIA, on my way home to Denver, I’m starting to think that Riddle may not be the place for me.

I HAVE YET TO START ANY FLIGHT OR BE ASSIGNED AND INSTRUCTOR. I’ve reached out to my academic adviser and the flight coordinator and just been met with “you’re on the list to be assigned an instructor.” “You’ll get an email when you’ve been assigned an instructor”

-I’ve read about students not being able to finish Riddles flight program in the projected time and i already feel behind.
-With the shortage of instructors for their students i wonder if there’s a reason Riddle grads don’t chose to fly for their Riddle for their hours?
-Riddle is very expensive for the schooling. one year here would be more (not accounting for flight cost on either end) than what i would be looking at for four years at MSU Denver.
-The only positive i see at Riddle is the R-ATP certification. but the cost saved in this is more than canceled out by the tuition and flight costs vs other schools.
-Is having Embry-Riddle Graduate and a R-ATP going to matter or give me and advantage getting hired regionally or when i move up to major airlines?

Sorry for the long read but really i just would like some help/opinions/advise on if staying at Riddle or I should explore other options, for example, going back home to Denver, attending MSU (direct partnership with united) and fly out of Centennial airport through ATP or something similar.


Riddle has a fine reputation and had for decades but frankly I never got the point? It will in no easy help you get hired at either a Regional nor a Major, while you may save some time with the R-ATP reduction it comes nowhere close to the exorbitant tuition and frankly there’s nothing wrong with having more flight time. Honestly while I understand the idea of an aviation degree is attractive (getting your degree and flight training at the same time and the R-ATP), the problem is the airlines frankly don’t require or even desire an aviation degree and if flying not work out for whatever reason there’s not much you can do with it.

Fortunately you’re only 2.5 mos in so you can cut your losses if you so choose. You can’t attend ATP with your PPL or at least a 2yr degree. I’m not sure MSU would be much different? These are decisions only you can make. You should finish your education but I always encourage people to have a plan B so I’d major in something other than aviation. The advice I give to friends is finish your core classes locally at community to save money and avoid debt. Then either train with ATP and finish your 4yr later or finish the 4yr elsewhere than ATP if you’re not sure you have the discipline to do it after. Do your research and decide what works best for you.


Thank you for your input Adam, i don’t have a PPL nor will i have any type of degree (I will have an AS 121 private pilot ops credit + FAA KT + endorsement for a semester of ground school (not sure if this matters?) and a few gen ed credits that i paid way too much for).

From everything I’ve heard from pilots, professionals in aviation, and other student pilots I’m really leaning towards ATP/or another local FBO and getting a degree in some other field of interest. Were just getting close to when registration starts for next semester at Riddle/MSU/ wherever and i’m trying to get as much knowledge as I can.

thank you


I have never been a fan of Embry Riddle. The stories you are recounting are unfortunately standard for them. I have also seen some of their “expert professors” on TV making absolute fools of themselves. I would look at different options if I were you.



 My story is similar to yours. I've recently transferred to Embry-Riddle Daytona Beach campus and I can see the sense of "false advertisement" that they show. During campus tours they show you all their cool toys like the spatial disorientation simulator, virtual reality lab, and the CRJ 200 sim. Too bad they don't tell you that there aren't any instructors for the spatial disorientation sim, the software for the virtual reality lab is still in development, and the CRJ is a 10,000 course that really has no benefit because even though you can get your ATP-CTP there, it costs $10,000. There's no point of going through all of that when an airline will pay for your ATP-CTP and you get type rated (I am not in the airlines so mentor pilots correct me if I'm wrong). Fortunately, I did most of my college education away from their campus saving me tens of thousands of dollars. I have so many AS friends that are on the waiting list and others that are still working on their PPL 2 years and 20k+ dollars later. I am doing my flight training off campus and I only have to do 3 semesters there so even by me going to the campus, I am fortunate enough to experience the networking benefits of Riddle without spending a lot of money. I am also saving a lot of money through academic scholarships and military benefits due to my dad being in the military. My advice to you is to do as much research as possible and see whats best for you. It doesn't seem like you shelled out too much money to them since you just started your freshman year so you are fortunate enough to cut ties without losing too much. I don't want to come across as unprofessional by "bad mouthing" the school. Its a good school but I feel a sense of false advertisement that they get away with. Most of the pilots in my dad's squadron and a couple of airline pilots that I know went to Riddle and I too wanted to go. Fortunately they were able to tell me their horror stories and show me the best way to go there and reap the benefits while saving money. Sorry for the long rant but I saw a fellow Eagle going through what I see my AS friends go through every single day but they already have too much invested to get out.

I started college at ERAU in Daytona but as an aerospace engineering student. My dad, a retired airline pilot told me the same thing the mentors are saying to you. Get a degree in something other than aeronautical science (or whatever they call it) so you have a plan B. Anyways, I left ERAU after the first year for several reasons similar to yours, the cost was ridiculously high and I just didn’t really fit in. I decided to go to a public school and save a ton of money on my bachelor’s degree. However, it was actually really tough to transfer to another university without having 2 years of college completed or an associate’s degree (in Florida at least). So I finished my AA degree at a community college and then transferred to a public university to finish my mechanical engineering degree. I finished in 4.5 years…not bad considering I had been to 3 different colleges to get my degree. All this is to say you may have to or may want to consider a community college to finish up your AA/AS degree, then transfer to a university to finish your bachelors. You’ll save even more money by doing as much coursework in community college as possible versus university tuition. The first two years of any degree is predominately general education courses, so why not do them as cheaply as possible, especially if you will have to pay for flight training to get to your ultimate goal?

 My education journey was similar to yours except I did my AA and gen ed courses before transferring to ER Daytona Beach. I am only doing 4 semesters here at Riddle and I'm doing my flight training off campus. Too bad a lot of students here are spending thousands of dollars on simple gen ed classes that can be done at a community college.