I just started ACPP in Dallas about two weeks ago... I can answer the majority of your questions, and I know that Sig reads this section quite a bit and he could probably answer the rest... or at least correct me on anything I may not have gotten right.
--Do they tell you who your “partner” is beforehand so you can e-mail them?
I knew who my partner was prior to the start date, I'm sure that they would have no problem getting you in contact with them prior to start. Just call your location or the 800 number to find out.
--How soon do you get the backpack with all the books and stuff in it?
After I paid my deposit, I had my package of materials in two days. You can pay your deposit well in advance of your start date if you wish to get them early. I got mine about 40 days prior to my start date.
--How much money should I plan on for eating out, etc.?
You will be in an apartment for your training. Full Kitchen facilities, etc... are available to you. Whatever you would normally spend on yourself for groceries is what you can figure in. You can pack your own lunches for training days, and a lot of times you may have an hour to two down time between Ground School & SIM sessions so you could feasibly go back to the apartment and cook yourself a meal. Other than that... Your meals on your X-Country phase are also up to you... so plan your budget accordingly...
--Besides the charts, do I need to have money for stuff like fuel, transportation on cross-countries, hotels, etc.?
All Fuel, Transportation, and Housing charges are covered by ATP. Dispatch handles your Cross-Country phase and it depends on the location whether or not you will be in a hotel or in the locations apartments. You will get a binder upon start of the program that has information on all locations including: Airport Diagrams, ATP's Location Info, the hotel's information, and local taxi numbers.
--When you stay in hotels, is it direct-billed, or do I pay and get reimbursed?
Most times all items are direct billed, but for the occasional Taxi or Rental car when necessary you will be re-imbursed.
--How do they handle the sleeping arrangements for girls?
Easily handled... separate rooms.
--What would you recommend as far as bringing sheets vs. a sleeping bag for cross-countries where you stay in the apartments?
I personally will be bringing a sheet and a light blanket with a pillow. It really depends on what you feel the most comfortable with.
--Do you know beforehand if you will be staying in a hotel or apartment?
Most times... Yes. But it is important to be flexible.
--How many hours a day are you at the facility/flying, and is it pretty much every day?
Here's where it varies... Based on scheduled checkrides, Fuel on the field, Ground School scheduled, Aircraft Maintenance, TFR's, Weather, SIM Schedules, etc... It really depends. Thus far, my longest day has been 8 hours and my shortest has been about 3 hours. And yes... for the most part it is everyday. You can work out days off with your partner and instructor when/if needed though.
--What is the dress code?
Business casual, with the exception that shorts are also allowed, or you may wear the ATP polo's with khaki's. Regardless, the ATP shirts are required for Checkrides and X-countries. You'll get these with your training materials.
--Do they ever hire instructors from the total instructor training program or just the Career Pilot Program?
I asked my instructor, and he stated that occasionally they do, but your chances are most likely better if you have completed the whole ACPP. However, ATP will be happy to look at any resume.
--Does pretty much everyone get offered an instructing position? Are there a lot who don’t?
This was a big question of mine as well... Here's the response I've been getting over and over again. Think of the 90 day program as a 90 day job interview. How you react to stress, variable schedules, and training has a big impact on whether or not you will get hired. Other factors that seem to be considered are: How well you interact with Dispatch during the X-Country phase and did you complete your assigned studies as per your instructor? Being a good student is a good barometer to how good of an instructor you may be.
--Is there a day of orientation of all their procedures and stuff or do they pretty much just throw you in?
It is fast paced... I just received my Private about 2.5 months ago, but I've never felt like I've been "thrown in". The expectations are high, but in my opinion they give you plently of training and time to complete your studies. However, the best advice I received was to have your Writtens completed prior to your start date!
This will be a blessing to you in the long run.
The first couple of days, your instructor will spend time with you going through the whole course timeline and setting up your training files. You will sign some documents, and recieve a book of daily quizes that need to be completed prior to the start of each day. Also, it's a really great idea... if not an expectation, to have the Seminole Supplement memorized... It will help when it comes to your Multi Checkride Oral which will be scheduled approx. 6-7 days after you arrive.
--Do you come to the facility/apartments like the day before you start, or a couple days before?
This you work out with ATP... It can go either way. It all depends on what you prefer.
--What other rules/guidelines do they have?
Study your butt off. Stay on good terms with the dispatchers. When your instructor tells you to study something... do it. Be safe in the air. Have your writtens (at least your Instrument and II) done prior to arrival. (I took mine the second day.) They will re-imburse you if you take them elsewhere, prior to arrival. Be on time each day. When you have a question... ASK it, don't worry about sounding stupid. Study, Study, Study!
--I heard there is no phone line in the apartments. Is there internet access anywhere if I bring my laptop?
You are correct, no phones. Every student with ATP is required to have a Cell phone for that reason. It will also come in handy for you on the cross-country phase. No specific Internet access except in the office but that is mostly for ATP business only. The local library is a great place for free internet access, as well as the local University Campus. Other than that, I'd hit an internet cafe and relax with a nice mocha-chino. If you wanted to pay for a cable connection to the apts. I believe you can also do that as well for the time you are there.
Also if anyone has any other kinds of suggestions or advice, I would love to hear it; I want to be as prepared as possible.
Get to know your partner well... take each other out to eat and relax... your going to be spending the next 90 days with each other. Don't BS your partner, if he/she asks how you did on a ride tell them the truth... "It went alright up until I did the last cross-wind short-field landing... but then I was all over the place." This will help you build the trust with each other and perhaps you will be able to learn from each other.
Other than that... It's fairly laid back, as long as you've studied and are prepared each day. It's also good to get to know the ACPP students who are ahead of you in the program. You can find out a LOT about the program and the upcoming Checkride expectations from them. Another good source of information is the 800 number... most everyone answering the phones is a former ACPP student and they are a wealth of info. on the program. Lastly... Have fun!
Your welcome... Have fun with it. I know I am!
Feel free to ask me any other questions... If I don't know the answer I'll find them out. Good luck to you!