Guidance for High School Students (Aspiring Pilots)

I’m Zach and I am currently a High School Sophomore in Northeast Ohio. I’ve had a burning passion for aviation for the longest time, and my dream is to become an airline pilot (or similar), traveling the world for a living. I have searched over and over, and still feel quite lost in the abyss of college possibilities. I am relatively uneducated about the necessary certifications and licenses required for such a career, so I cannot really judge which colleges offer genuinely better programs. Below are colleges that I have found interest in:

  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

  • Aerosim Flight Academy (Delta Connection)

  • Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology

  • Ohio State University

  • Florida Tech

  • ATP

  • California Institute of Technology

  • Flight Safety Academy

  • CAE Oxford (Phoenix, AZ campus)

Please share your advice, opinions, and experience! I am nearly positive that I would like to steer clear of the Air Force route, and attending a college in Florida (or similar climate) is also high on my priority list. Let’s just say that I am not a huge fan of our climate up in Ohio. I have heard that Also, I am not necessarily looking for a “fast-track”. I would like an education that will benefit me in the long run, even if it takes a bit longer for me to complete it. Any and all advice will be much appreciated!

Thank you
- Zach :airplane:


There are many fine schools out there you simply need to find the one to suit your needs best. First off ATP, Aerosim, Flight Safety and CAE are not colleges and offer no degree programs. All are full time flight academies that offer training for professional pilots. The others are colleges and do offer degree programs.

As for becoming a pilot you must earn your Private and Commercial licenses and your Multi-engine, Instrument and Instructor ratings. After your done training you then have to build the 1500hrs required to get hired at a Regional (the most common way to build time is by instructing). While the Regionals do not require a degree the Majors do so it’s good that you’re looking to continue your education.

Those are the basics and I really believe everyone needs to make their own decisions when it comes to training. No one can do that for you and I won’t bash any school as there are pros and cons to most. You’ve got a year or 2 before you need to decide so I recommend you do as much research as you can to make the best decision for you. That said there are a few things to think about.

As you said you want to continue your education and that’s good. While the Majors desire a degree they do not specify a field of study. If you’re set on aviation and want to study aviation that’s fine but I often encourage people to pursue other interests in school. While you may very well believe you want to be a pilot, some people find out its really not what they like or expected, others find other obstacles (medical for example). If your degree is in aviation you’ve put all your eggs in one basket. Another thing as I mentioned was you will need to build time. I would investigate what options the schools you’re looking at offer for employment after. Completing a 4yr program with all your licenses and ratings is fine but you will need a way to build time after.

As I said you’ve got time, research away.