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Old 01-06-2019, 12:16 PM   #1  
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Default ATP vs small school

Hello. I'm 28, and looking to get into aviation. I'm trying to decide between going to ATP or a small school. ATP sounds like it really gets you ready for the airlines. I've heard it's similar to an airline training program, and very fast paced. ATP is very expensive though, and taking such a large loan can severely limit your life. Your job prospects are still very limited when you graduate the program as well, since you don't have many hours.

PS. I have some college credits, but didn't finish my degree. I guess I can finish online. Would it be hard getting a job with an airline without a degree?

Last edited by mlb8251; 01-06-2019 at 12:28 PM.
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Old 01-06-2019, 12:27 PM   #2  
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Small school. ATP is nice considering how fast you can get all your ratings but your in $80-100k in debt. Small schools will save you thousands of dollars but at a cost of time. Your 28 so your not old but your not young either.

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Old 01-06-2019, 02:39 PM   #3  
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Donít do it! Those guys rush you through your ratings and a lot of people end up failing checkrides. Find a small school with a non-time building instructor and you can still finish quickly. I know a great school. I finished in 18 months and spent half what ATP charges.
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Old 01-06-2019, 04:49 PM   #4  
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ATP is good if you are in a hurry to get through, and if you can't get financing anywhere else. But yes, they will force you to take checkrides when you are not ready. And they suck to work for, damn near abusive to their CFIs.
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:37 AM   #5  
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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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Old 01-08-2019, 11:38 AM   #6  
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You can still get your ratings quickly at a small school. Anyone who says so otherwise has no idea what they are talking about. It’s all about how much time and effort you can put in daily.
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Old 01-09-2019, 12:28 PM   #7  
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Originally Posted by Moe96 View Post
You can still get your ratings quickly at a small school. Anyone who says so otherwise has no idea what they are talking about. Itís all about how much time and effort you can put in daily.
Agree 100%. A conversation with your instructor should be had as to the speed with which you want to get your ratings. Your instructor will know if they can keep that pace or not. If they can't, they should let you know and pass you off to another instructor. If they can, they'll let you know, and then it's on you to do the work to keep up.

Even ATP is mostly self study (from what I hear), so it's really on you as to how fast you can go.
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Old 01-13-2019, 03:49 PM   #8  
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I have put two sons through flight schools. ATP sucks, in my opinion, because they lack standardization. Where he was at, their check ride preparation was horrible. He had started originally in Wisconsin, but his instructor bailed out to Brickyard. My other son went to Flight Safety, and that was a useless colonoscopy, until I sent him to a school across the street that was more professional and somewhat cheaper. I would recommend the smaller programs.
My disclaimer is that I was Navy trained, and only have about 250 hours of light airplane time in a total 18,000+ hours. Never the less, I am not enthralled with FLAP (**********g Light Airplane Pilot) community. But, we have to make the best of what is there.
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Old 01-13-2019, 04:00 PM   #9  
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I envy your briefs. Both verbal and undie.

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Old 01-14-2019, 05:43 PM   #10  
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Default ATP is not the right choice for most people.

See title.
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