Real Answers from Real Pilots

Pre-college advice

Hello, my name is Alex Morgan and I am currently a Junior in high school and I have great interest in being a pilot and going through ATP to get certificates and such. I have a few questions regarding what the best path to take in college to go to flight school. For instance do I finish college at a community college or do it while in college because it is quite expensive and I understand there are financial support or loans you can take out but I just want to maximize my odds of getting in the flight school and have money to pay for it.

Thank you,
Alex

Alex,

We generally recommend people finish college first and then go to ATP. Both require a good amount of work and you want to do well in both. That said ATP does offer a Flex Track for those who want to do both. Personally I prefer the traditional route of college first but ultimately it’s your decision.

Adam

Thank you for your response!!
I agree with what you had to say about going to college first and then flight school but is a bachelors degree overkill for something I’m most likely not going to use as a pilot?

Alex,

Whether you’ll use it or not is questionable (I was a Liberal Arts major so I might have used some?) but you will most definitely need one. Major airlines want 4yr degrees. If you don’t have one you’ll severely limit yourself. That said you can always do a 2yr at community college, do your flight training, get hired then finish your 4yr in short order with credits from your 2yr and from your licenses and ratings.

Adam

I’m not the most disciplined student so I’m thinking I should probably get my 4 years of college before I do flight school unless you think I should do it anyways.

Alex,

I absolutely think you should do the 4yrs first. It’s really fantastic and demonstrates great maturity that you recognize the amount of discipline required to finish your education in stages. It’s honestly not something I recommend but I often get alot of pushback when I do so I’ve been less adamant about it. As I said you want to do well and apply yourself to both. It’s much easier to take on one at a time.

I’m confident you’ll do well.

Adam

Thank you very much sir but my other concern is when it comes to paying for college then flight school it’s very expensive and the only person I have is my mom who is single and with the pandemic business has been slow for my mom who doesn’t make 3 figures.

Alex,

Unfortunately flight training is expensive and it’s a concern for most aspiring pilots. While debt can be scary and should be avoided, this is an investment in your future. If you’re successful the returns will be great.

Hopefully things will turn around soon for your mom (and all of us) and by the time you’re ready it’ll be less of a concern. Regardless where there’s a will there’s always a way.

Adam

I know your not the financial person to talk to but I know that most people don’t just have 80k sitting around and I’m wondering what you did. Did you have a job and do college and flight school concurrently?

Alex,

ATP does not permit students to work while in the full time Airline Career Pilot Program, the demands of the program are just to great. The Flex Track offers the ability to work while in training. The vast majority of students finance their training through student loans.

Chris

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Ok thank you and the ability to become a CFI after training not only offers hours but pay as well correct?

Alex that’s correct. See the the attached for details

https://atpflightschool.com/become-a-pilot/airline-career/flight-instructor-certificate.html

Adam

Is it a contract where I entice my self to a certain amount of time?

Alex,

ATP has no contract but some schools might?

Adam

Alex,

Since you are a Junior in HS, do you have an opportunity to take AP classes or participate in a Running Start Program? That would reduce your college tuition fees. If you don’t have the equivalent of a two year degree by the time you graduate from high school, I would also look into the community college route and then transfer to a four year to finish the last two years. I would also look at applying for loans, grants, and FAFSA.

As for flight training, your best bet may be to take out a loan. ATP has a good relationship with Sallie Mae. This is how most students finance their training.

Tory

I do have these opportunities and I did participate in two of these classes but unfortunately more than those 2 classes is just to much stress to try to handle so I just did those two and that’s it. I agree with you about going to a community college for 2 years and then go to a four year college but my main concern is trying to pay these loans while I finish college and start flight school. I will consult with the Sallie Mae program to see how long I can prolong the payments and such that way I can survive while continuing my career

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Alex,

I took numerous dual enrollment courses while in high school, they are not that difficult. I can tell you that flight training is far mire difficult, particularly at the airlines, so I suggest stepping it up now.

Chris

Hi Alex. I’m a senior in high school, and I’ve done dual enrollment throughout my junior and senior year. I’ve done a lot of classes through my community college online, and I’m on track to finishing up with my associates degree this winter. I’m planning on either going to college to get a business degree then get all my ratings or getting all my ratings first then finishing up my bachelors degree. I highly suggest you take dual enrollment classes over AP. I’m in AP calculus and there have been a few times when I questioned if I can pass the exam in May. Something to keep in mind about AP classes is that they doing count towards your college credits unless you pass. With dual enrollment you can get a B for the class and still have it count towards your college credit. Plus like Chris said, they are a lot easier.