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Old 01-08-2019, 10:37 AM   #5  
Cheese7
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Joined APC: Nov 2016
Posts: 52
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I was in your shoes 2 years ago.

Are you geographically mobile? Do you work currently? How will you be paying? Do you have $80k to blow, or are funds limited? They sound limited since you mention worrying about taking out a huge loan. If that's the case, ATP might not be right for you. They are pretty big on selling you that loan. They called me daily for weeks trying to sell me on the financing. On the other hand, if you don't have any money to spend or any income, then your only option would be to get a job that generates enough money to cash flow your ratings, or take out a loan to pay for them (this will require collateral or a co-signer with collateral).

Do you want an experienced instructor who actually wants to be an instructor, or an hour-builder who is regurgitating what was taught to them 6 months prior?

As far as job prospects when you graduate, you are correct, there are few options for people with 275 hours. Most go on to flight instruct to build hours to get to 1500. Some instruct with ATP; some instruct at other schools (ATP doesn't pay their instructors much).

If you're on a budget, small Part 61 school in a small town, 100%. In most cases, you can get done just as fast as ATP, maybe faster. Some ATP locations are in areas with long DPE backlogs, so you may be waiting for checkrides for a while.

You also have much more control over your instructor with a local Part 61 school than a big box school like ATP. I've spoken with a few ATP instructors, and it seems that most of them are there to get their hours for the airlines and move on. They don't really want to be an instructor, they really just want the hours. Nothing terribly wrong with this, everybody has to get their hours some way, and instructing is an efficient way to do it. But if you're looking for high quality instruction from an instructor who really wants to be an instructor, I think you've got a better shot of getting this somewhere other than ATP.

My advice would be to fly with several instructors at schools in your local area to get a feel for different instructors and their instructional style. If an instructor is not working out for you, move on to the next. You might have to filter through a few mediocre instructors to find a really good one.

As far as your degree goes, you don't need a degree to get hired by a regional airline, but will likely need one to go further. It's always a great thing to have a degree to make you more job marketable if/when you get furloughed or lose your medical and flying ability. A lot of people are going the online degree route these days. You've got plenty of time before you'll need a degree. If you want to go the airline route, I'd focus on passing checkrides, logging hours, and learning everything you can about IFR flying.

ATP is really great at marketing. It's easy to see why people new in the industry get blinded by the ATP lights, but there are many great alternatives out there, they just don't have their companies plastered all over the internet.

Whichever way you go, best of luck to you!!
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