Real Answers from Real Pilots

Next steps as a high school student

Hello everyone. Currently, I’m homeschooled and just starting to take some college classes. My question is should I continue to dual enroll in the summer semester, or should I get my PPL in the summer? If possible, I might be able to do both but that may be a stretch. They’re both saving me money, but I’m not sure which is better. If I got my PPL, I would get a substantial credit on the Airline Pilot Course and I could also see whether I’m sure I want to become a pilot without such a huge investment. On the other hand, dual enrollment could save me time in college later on, and save money since it’s free.



A few things to consider here. First thing, I doubt that you would actually save money by getting your PPL outside of ATP. The Airline Career Pilot Program is roughly $18k less when starting with your private. Now some local school has probably quoted you a bargain basement price based off of 45 hours of flight time. Very few people get their PPL in that amount of time. Even if you did, you will still need 78 hours of flight time to begin ATP’s program with credit for private. So when you are running the numbers, be sure to base the price of your private off of 78 hours, I bet the savings is not as significant as you might think.

I recommend against taking college classes and flight training. I have done that, it was not easy and my grades suffered. As you are still of high school age, I would really recommend taking the college classes, then going to college and then to flight school. I understand the desire to go fly, but it is not a race and it really is important to have a college degree when entering the field.


Thank you very much for your answer!


I’m with Chris on this one for all the reasons he states. I’d simply like to add you do mention getting your PPL first due to some uncertainty. That really is the only reason I ever recommend getting your PPL first (or at least doing some flight training before enrolling with ATP. ATP does require a huge commitment both in time and money. If you’re not 100% certain flying is what you want to, or can do, starting your flight training first (getting your PPL is fine but maybe just until you solo) is a very sound idea.



I would like to add on to what both Adam & Chris mentioned, finding an AME and applying for a medical. When you’re ready to begin training and decided, start with applying for a medical. For a Private Pilot License you only need a Third (3rd) Class FAA Medical; with that said, Airline’s require a First (1st) Class FAA Medical. Programs like ATP have a prerequisite for the 1st class because they want to be sure you can hold one. When you’re ready to start the process with becoming a pilot, the two links below will lead you into the right direction with getting a medical.

Here’s a link to begin that process: MedXpress

  • Register for an account and begin to fill it out the form, at the end you’ll receive a confirmation number, for safety measures, print out your form and take it with you to the AME

Once you fill out the form, your next step is to find an AME, AME Locator

Hope this helps you in the near future!


Thank you very much. I’ll definitely keep those saved!

I am currently a high school senior and I’m stuck on the option of attending embry riddle worldwide to work and persue my degree online then about 2 years attending atp. My other option would be should I attend ATP first then begin my degree at embry riddle worldwide ?


First off you’re not “stuck”, you simply have a decision to make. If you’ve spent anytime on this forum you know we’re not fans of aviation degrees (if you haven’t you should as there’s dozens of threads on the subject). The airlines neither require or even prefer one. There’s no question ER is a fine university (albeit very expensive) and they have produced many fine pilots. Problem again is the cost and dragging your training out over 4yrs is less than optimal.

Going to ATP first then going to Riddle is pointless (unless you’re talking about doing it online while you’re building time or flying for a Regional, etc). I believe it’s best to finish your degree in something other than aviation (it’ll give you a backup and make you more well rounded) then go to ATP. The training will prepare you for the airlines and your progression will be continuous vs pausing for school.

Ultimately the choice is yours and again I recommend you read some of the many threads for other people’s thoughts.


Thank you for the feedback, what was the route you took? Just out of curiosity


Aviation was actually a second (actually 3rd or 4th) career for me. I got my degree, did the 9-5 for a while, owned a restaurant and finally stopped fighting the desire and became a pilot.


Also due to the current situation to the pandemic is there a major disadvantage to new pilots ? I am still looking forward to becoming a pilot it’s just seems there really isn’t a clear route except the 2 most advertised which are are ATP or ERAU however I personally think ATP while talking Embry Riddle online is the best decision thank you for helping me out with your last response I think I’ve got it figured out.


Glad we could help.

Not sure I know what you mean by “major disadvantage”? There’s no question the pandemic negatively impacted aviation (and most industries) pretty severely. The good news is there’s little question the industry will recover as we’re already seeing signs by some of the Regionals announcing they’re resuming training. By the time you’re ready things should be back to normal. Frankly if we’re not by then there’s going to be far worse problems.



I would start flight training as soon as you are able. As for college, if you are going to earn your degree online I would recommend something other than aviation. The airlines won’t care where or what you earn your degree in. They care that you have one. Period. Why get your degree in aviation when you could get your degree in something (anything) else that could be used as your backup plan if flying doesn’t work out?