Real Answers from Real Pilots

Which colleges to apply to while pursuing flight training?

My son is a senior in high school and is applying to colleges. He’s wanting to get his 4-year degree while pursuing his flight training. He flies out of Somerset airport in New Jersey right now and will be soloing soon.

Kristi,
While it seems efficient to get college done while training, we really don’t recommend it.

The four year college degree is an incredibly important component in getting a job with the majors (ie. American, Delta, United). Not only do they look for the degree, but also his GPA. College is a full time commitment to be successful. The problem is, flight training should be as well. There simply is not enough time in the day nor should your sons attention be split between the two because one will suffer. Either grades will slip or proficiency will be lost in training and checkride failures could occur. The goal, to have the highest gpa he can achieve on his resume and little to no checkride failures through flight training. The probability of that being accomplished at the same time is incredibly slim.

Now another aspect to keep in mind, finances. If he is doing flight training part time around school, there will be bigger gaps from lesson to lesson which causes problems in making forward progress. Instead of using each day to build upon the next training full time, his lessons will be half playing catch up refreshing skills that degraded since the last session before making any progress. So it’s like two steps forward, one step back. His training will end up taking longer and cost more.

So, with all this being said, we recommend your son just focus on college these next four years. He can certainty fly for fun but leave the professional training until after graduation. He could then enroll in ATP and knock out all his ratings in 7 months, be instructing by month 8 and by at a regional airline within 2 years of graduating college. He would still be one of the youngest in his class.
-Hannah

Kristi,

As Hannah said, we really don’t recommend aviation degrees. The airlines neither desire or require them and they offer no backup should aviation not work out for your son due to choice or circumstance.

The other issue even if he chooses another major is that part time flight training is very inefficient. Successful flight training is dependant on consistency. There’s a reason the military and the airlines train every day. It’s to not waste time and money.

In short he should focus all his attention on one goal at a time.

Adam

Thank you. My ex-husband works with a gentleman that has his kids at Liberty University where he believes that’s what they are doing. I’m just wanting to know the best path for him. Thank you for all your advice!

Kristi

Kristi,

I am not a fan of Liberty University, especially their leadership. I recommend doing some research anthem before committing to their program.

I find aviation degrees to be basically pointless and to not offer any sort of fall back plan to the student. The airlines do not care one bit what a pilot’s degree is in, they just want to see a four year degree. To me, it makes more sense to get a degree in something else he is interested in, just to have as a backup.

I generally recommend going to college first, then going to an accelerated flight training program. I find this to be a far more efficient path to the airlines.

Chris