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Reasons not to get a degree in Aviation

Discussion in 'Collegiate Aviation' started by Blackhawk21, Nov 8, 2009.

  1. Blackhawk21

    Blackhawk21 New Member

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    Hello everyone, I would like to share with you my story so that some of you will be able to learn from my mistakes.

    I have always wanted to be a pilot my entire life. When my senior year of high school came around, I wanted to go to college to earn all of my licenses and ratings as well as a degree in aviation. I figured going to a reputable school and doing my training there would guarantee me a job upon graduation.

    Currently, I am a freshman at Purdue. I was admitted into Professional Flight Technology for the Fall of 2009. I went to my first day of classes, and that's when I knew that I was taking the wrong path to fullfill my career goals. I didn't like my flight instructor, and I found it quite amusing that I have a friend who was actually more qualified of an instructor than her. That being said, I changed majors after one day of being here.

    This is my advice to everyone who wants to do aviation in college.

    Don't do it.

    Airlines want their pilots to have a degree. Just a degree; it does not matter what this degree is in. Having a degree in aviation will not give you a competitive edge in the hiring process.

    The money university run programs charge is much greater than the flight costs you will pay at an FBO. For example, paying out-of-state tuition, it was going to cost be nearly 160K for a degree in aviation from Purdue.
    This means you pay all that money just to earn your licenses.

    Somebody who did all their flight training separate from their education will have a college degree in some other field as well as have the same licenses and ratings as you. Thus, you are spending a lot of money for a degree that doesn't give you much of a competitive edge at all.

    A degree in aviation is useless if a pilot cannot pass a medical. For example, I could have been walking down the graduation stage here at Purdue, tripped, and smashed my head, causing me to fail my medical. Then I just would have spent four years and 160K on a degree that now prohibits me from flying. Now what do you do?

    The market for the aviation industry is dead right now. I'm not saying it won't ever recover, but what is the point in spending all that money to realize you won't be hired.

    These are just some thoughts now, and I strongly encourage anyone who is considering getting a degree in aviation to rethink it. Doing all of your flight training apart from your college education will be the best way to prepare yourself for life.

    If anyone has any questions please contact me.
     
  2. ZachH

    ZachH Well-Known Member

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    Sorry for you trouble- Hope you still want to fly and earn you ratings. Best of luck
     
  3. Clocks

    Clocks Well-Known Member

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    Something about "I was an aviation major for 1 day last month and here's why you shouldn't do it" made me laugh. Sort of like somene quitting 121 training after the first day explaining why you shouldn't work for a regional.

    you're right in this case...its just funny.
     
  4. wrxpilot

    wrxpilot New Member

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    Seems like plenty of time to realize majoring in aviation is not the best idea if one also wants to become a pilot. Like the original poster said, nobody, and I mean NOBODY cares if you have an aviation degree when you're applying for a flying job.

    As pilots, we're trained from the start to always have a backup plan. A smart move would be to have a useable degree in a practical field (accounting, engineering, medical, etc.) that has nothing to do with aviation. You want to diversify yourself, so that if you aren't able to fly due to something like a depressed aviation sector, you are able to at least put food on the table doing something else.

    Graduating with anything even remotely close to $100k in debt for aviation training and education is just ridiculously naive.
     
  5. Clocks

    Clocks Well-Known Member

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    I read the first letter of your post, and agree with you :)

    i really do agree, even though having a degree in marketing + 1 year as a regional FO isn't going to do you much more good competing for a marketing job. Lots of people have degrees AND experience. It will make starting over much easier though.
     
  6. Blackhawk21

    Blackhawk21 New Member

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    Let's just say I jumped the gun with my college decision to do aviation. I pretty much knew going in that I would not be sticking around to spend the money on an aviation degree. Every pilot I talked to told me degrees in aviation are useless, I have no clue why I didn't just listen to them!
    I think Purdue showed me all these fancy simulators to try and convince me that I'm getting something other than licenses and ratings.

    I'm still going to earn all my licenses and ratings, but I'm working on getting a degree in Actuarial Science with a minor in secondary education. Also transferring back to my state of residency next semester and using the money saved from tuition to earn my ratings during the summer.

    Seems like a MUCH better plan that I originally had.

    It just feels great to know that I'll have a solid degree and all my licenses, and end up paying a lot less for it all.

    Any other suggestions?
     
  7. GUNIT

    GUNIT Well-Known Member

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    Blackhawk,

    Let me preface this by saying I am probably one of the bigger critics of collegiate aviation program on here. With that said, you definitely jumped the gun on this one. One day is hardly enough time to see a program for what it truly is, especially at the beginning of your first semester. You are correct that there are numerous reasons to leave Purdue. However, for some people it works; just taking flying classes is satisfying enough and this is something that everyone must accept.

    I'm also curious about what you mean that your flight instructor wasn't as qualified as the rest. You certainly will see a wide spectrum of quality in flight instructors when students are teaching, how could you have possibly figured out the quality of your instructor by the first day. You don't even fly the first day! I'm guessing you don't have your private ticket yet, so what criteria or experiential background are you judging the CFI's on?
     
  8. mikecweb

    mikecweb They think I'm Mexican...

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    Thanks for the advice.
    The chances of me sticking through 4 years of school at the time in something not aviation related was slim to none.
    All undergrad degrees accomplish the same thing. Just because someone studies aviation in college doesn't mean it's a waste of time. Thinking any undergrad degree will open specific doors to specfic careers for the most part is naive as well.
     
  9. Clocks

    Clocks Well-Known Member

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    You made a good decision, whether or not it was for the right reasons. Don't worry about it! You're starting on a solid path with high chances of success in aviation or elsewhere.
     
  10. KSCessnaDriver

    KSCessnaDriver Well-Known Member

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    Yeah that.

    Don't let someone tell you to major in something you've got no interest in. Its really, really hard to spend 4 years doing schoolwork on something that you've got no interest in. I understand the argument for not getting an aviation degree, but, if that is the only thing that truly interests you, a degree is better than no degree.
     
  11. CN94559

    CN94559 New Member

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    :yeahthat::yeahthat::yeahthat:

    this needs to be taken into consideration more. Yeah, getting a degree in aviation might not be the best route if something happens to where you cant fly anymore, but if you really don't find anything else interesting, you're wasting your time and money getting a degree in it. Not only that, but since you don't like it you will more than likely end up not doing well because it doesn't interest you.
     
  12. sog

    sog New Member

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    Yeah, agreed. Don't major in something that doesn't interest you. But if Aviation or Aviation Management interests you, then there is probably a more career-friendly field of study that will be at least as interesting to you, such as Aerospace Engineering.
     
  13. wrxpilot

    wrxpilot New Member

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    You got into aviation and went to college in a much different world than we have today. I'm also assuming you didn't get yourself into six figure debt, which was the major point of my post FWIW.

    As far as specific degrees opening particular doors being naive, I'm not sure what your point is. A degree in something like engineering or medicine is an outstanding backup, and is far more likely to get one employed than a degree in aviation management.
     
  14. Clocks

    Clocks Well-Known Member

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    I agree and disagree with both of you.

    Look at the classified;

    "Requirements....marketing degree and 4 years experience in marketing"
    "Requirements....marketing degree and 5 years experience in marketing"
    "Requirements....marketing degree and 3 years experience in marketing"

    As a pilot with a marketing degree, you have 0 years experience in marketing. Which means when you are furloughed you are absolutely no better off than a marketing major who graduated yesterday. There are no special doors opened....yet. But you can start over in a career in marketing, get hired in to some boring position at some crap salary, and you'll be ahead of the aviation major. But you're not going to lose your medical at 35 and walk into an $80k/year marketing position just because you graduated with a 4 year marketing degree 13 years earlier.
     
  15. wrxpilot

    wrxpilot New Member

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    Nobody is telling anybody what they have to do. All we're stating are basic facts and some recommendations... If one is incapable of getting a degree in something other than aviation, than you gotta do what you gotta do. But if you want to have a viable backup plan for you and possibly your future family in a very unstable industry, a degree in a field that has strong employment is probably a good idea.

    If that's not your cup of tea, than perhaps some other type of backup plan like a side business... There's a guy on another well known message board that sells insurance on the side, and does pretty well for himself. He specializes in aviation insurance, so he found a great way to combine it with his specialty.

    The other main factor this guy had against Purdue was graduating with $160k in debt. To proceed forward with such a plan is 100% guaranteed to make one's life extremely difficult as they build their post-college, time to be an adult future.
     
  16. wrxpilot

    wrxpilot New Member

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    I understand, and I agree. But there are degree programs out there with a very strong demand that will hire entry level applicants right away. The examples I cited (engineering and medicine) are two such fields.
     
  17. KSCessnaDriver

    KSCessnaDriver Well-Known Member

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    O yeah, I understand that. And, I'm by no means telling him to absolutely get an aviation degree.

    I just don't buy the "get a marketing degree, so that in 10 years when you get furloughed, you can get a marketing job". So what that you have a marketing degree. You're 10 years out of school, and have no field specific experience. At that point, your just as marketable to a firm as someone who got out of college yesterday. Perhaps less, because at least that new graduate remembers the stuff he supposedly learned. How many people can honestly remember what they did 10 years ago in a class?
     
  18. wrxpilot

    wrxpilot New Member

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    That has some merit, no doubt. A couple of options come to mind:

    1)Get at least a couple years of work experience in your chosen field of study.
    2)Maintain professional relationships.
    3)Consider pursuing a side business that will utilize the degree, keeping it up to date.
    4)You can always spend a couple of years going to grad school to super size the degree.
     
  19. jskibo

    jskibo Old

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    Just because you have a degree in Aviation and you suddenly don't fly there's no opportunities for you......????

    I dropped the AS in Flight 2 years in and finished the BS in Aviation Management. Why? Well I was 29 at the time and didn't want to put up with the crap pay the grads were getting at the jobs they found.

    That said, the BS in AV Management worked great as it held my interest and all the Credits for my A&P helped get me finished faster (two and a half years total).

    Now with that "Useless" degree I have been working for a manufacturer for the past 14 years across a wide variety of Military programs.

    My fiance took a different approach to the same management job (different dept) that I have. She has a medical engineering degree, Electrical Engineering degree, Masters in Communications, MBA and in 3 more weeks a Law degree (JD).

    Different experiences, different approaches, same result......

    Do something that keeps your interest!
     
  20. Blackhawk21

    Blackhawk21 New Member

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    I've taken several lessons at my FBO to dip my feet into aviation, and I loved it. Then when I got to Purdue, it literally seemed no different at all. The first day I went they basically told me I was going to be taking flight lessons 3 or 4 times a week for college credit. That's when I realized that I am paying almost 4 times as much as it would cost me to take the same lessons at my local FBO.

    And true, I don't have much criteria to judge CFI's. But I knew a friend in high school who became a CFI the summer after graduation. It was at that point that I realized that if all this flight training can be done by a high schooler with determination, then there literally is no reason for me to spend the next 4 years and 160K on my licenses when I have a friend who is just as qualified as my instructor who just turned 18 and did all his flight training while still in high school.
     

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