I know there are similar questions in the FAQ, but I was wondering if I could get advice with what my specific situation is. I have recently completed high school with a 3.7 GPA, and I am currently enrolled in my first semester at my community college, while living with my parents and stacking money working. I will have 21 out of 60 credits towards my AA, and this semester has been insanely easy for me, maintaining straight As has not been an issue. I was wondering if I should get my AA as fast as possible, then apply to ATP, if I should convert to all online classes and attempt dual enrollment with my community college and ATP and drop classes before the drop deadline at college if I really needed, or if I should get my bachelors as fast as possible then apply. I know the answer for similar questions has been to just lock in and get my bachelors, but I want to get started flying asap. I have had an interest in this career for years, and I spoke to a family friend who recently got promoted to an Airline Captain at Southwest, and he said he believes dual enrollment is possible because that is what he did, and I really need to just try and get into this career as soon as I can, a degree isn’t even necessary anymore. I have had a discovery flight at an airport 8 minutes away from my house, and if I really should get my bachelors first I was wondering if I should continue getting lessons at this convenient airport and get my PPL to knock off some of the price at ATP, continue making flight progress along side my bachelors, and give myself another edge on my application to ATP when the time comes. I don’t know. A lot of mixed thoughts over here and I’m feeling some pressure in figuring out the right way to go about this because I just want to get started asap. I have thought about paying for ATP’s admissions flight to help myself move up in the application process, to hopefully help get me accepted without an AA or Bachelors. I am so eager to start my life as a pilot, but is the right move to just relax and get all my college done first or even at least work to get my PPL around obtaining a degree?
I’ve been doing this a while and while I appreciate you reading our FAQs and researching before you ask, whenever anyone says that they have and then said “but” I always smile. That’s because the translation is “I know the answer you’ve given everyone else but I’m looking for a different one”. Thing is that’s not going to happen.
ATP strongly discourages students from attempting the program while doing ANYTHING else (school, work, etc). People who commit 100% of their time and energy still struggle and doing something else is setting yourself up for failure. Further if you tell ATP that’s your plan you won’t be accepted which means you’d need to lie which isn’t a good way to begin a career that puts alot of weight on the honor system. Also let’s be honest, while a 3.7 is a great GPA, it’s not a 4.0 which indicates either school wasn’t that easy for you or worse you didn’t put in the work.
As for your friend at SWA they’re making alot of assumptions. While right now during the greatest pilot shortage in history, degrees do seem less important, they’re still preferred and more important of demand goes down for any number of reasons it could easily again become a requirement. Further, should flying not work out by either choice or circumstance, it’s always a good idea to have a backup.
With that all said, as always (and as we’ve told everyone else), there will be no dual enrollment (with ATP part of the duality) and yes you should finish college first.
You should not try to dual enroll in ATP and any college program, that is a recipe for failure at either college or your flight training. I am not sure about your friend at SWA, but it is a terrible idea. While degrees are no longer necessary, they certainly help and can be a huge factor in the hiring process.
You have to take an Admissions Flight to apply to ATP, it is not a matter of helping you move up in the application process, it is a requirement.
I would recommend finishing college, then applying to ATP. I understand that you want to get flying, but ATP’s experience has shown that the maturity that comes with age and college better positions students for success in the program.
Thank you for your input, I totally understand! Yeah I know the “but” was a bit of a stretch, but I was definitely anticipating these answers. As for my 3.7 yeah there was a bit of struggle for certain classes at the beginning of high school, specifically Spanish. If finishing college is really the right way to do it, then so be it, I am committed to pursuing aviation and I want to do it right, and a degree definitely is something I would want as a pilot or not just for additional qualifications for anything that follows me in life. This leads me to my next question, if I decided to put getting into ATP on hold, and just worked hard at obtaining my AA, would it be a bad idea to get my AA, then try to apply to ATP and if I get accepted finish the training and earn my certifications so I can work on building my hours as a flight instructor at the same time as working towards finishing my degree? Or would it be better to finish all of college first? Or even would it be a good idea to obtain my PPL through my local airport while I worked towards earning my AA? I’m trying to find ways where I can at least start putting some work towards aviation instead of doing my college and only my college. If ATP and college at the same time isn’t a good idea, is there at least something I should or could be doing to help take off some of the time and workload when I am accepted into ATP?
ATP is a full time commitment for both students AND instructors so college isn’t a good idea then either.
As for getting your PPL elsewhere that’s up to you but keep in mind many people find training locally both frustration and expensive. There’s this misconception you’ll save money but in most cases it ends up costing more, particularly when you factor in you’ll need at least 78hrs of flight time to get credit for your PPL in the program.
Again, we recommend completing your education first.