On the website it does state that you are required to have a 2 year degree or equivalent work experience. But.... I called Jax and they said that many 18's year olds right out of high school have gone through the program (one of them I know use to post on here and is/was an instructor in Atlanta). I'm currently in the same posistion as you are so basically sounds if they evaluate each perspective student at your interview.
The requirement is for your benefit. ATP wants to ensure you have the best chances of getting that flying job before you spend the time and money.
There have been cases where pilots have gone through the Career Pilot Program without a degree. I imagine that these pilots talked to the VP about their career/educational plans. If you have a solid plan, and you can make a good case, then certainly give ATP a call.
Why would it be hard to go back to school after obtaining your ratings?
If anything I find it to my advantage... having all my ratings by the end of september at the age of 18 will allow me to enroll online with ERAU or USVU and pursue a degree while building time. And if your lucky like the other 18 year old that use so post on here (Hunter I believe?) and get a job instructing for ATP you can't go wrong with a logbook full of multi time. "If" all works out and I would get the opportunity to comeback and instruct for ATP at the age of 20 I could see one having a good 1500+ TT and 85 percent of that being multi...
I'm inclined to go with montana on this one. What I think he's getting at is, you're not going to want to let those nice shiny new skills rust right off the bat, are you? No, you're going to want to put them to work. I've seen it happen a million times..."oh, I'll go back to school later, I just wanna jump in and work for a while". Then you see them about age 35 struggling in night school with wife/kids/house payment. Tempus fugit, and no sh**. Hey, though, if you can make it work, go for it, but I'd still recommend a less expensive route than ERAU. Then again, you might be rich...
I went through training with a young guy from Montana. He was just out of high school when he started. He did well in the Career Pilot Program and instructed in Jax for about nine months. He now has 1,000 hours (850 multi) and is going to college now. He will instruct on the side for spending money. By the time he graduates, he will be 23 years old with 1500 hours and will be ready for the regionals with an ATP rating. I wish I could have done that when I was his age.
Good on him. That shows good discipline, something most folks don't have enough of to make their dreams a reality. There's about a million things I would do differently if I had the option, but I'm trying to make the best of it and make up for lost time now. The cool thing is, he has time to make mistakes and still come out smelling like a rose. Personally, I cannot afford failure at this stage, so my motivation and focus is high.
It has been suggested to me from a number of people from the avaition industry that I get all my ratings first and then flight instruct while in college. If I were to go to college and fly at the same time it would be much more stressfull, especially when trying to study for midterms and having to prepare for a checkride in the same week (which I am sure many of you have probably done) but I prefer to concentrate on one task at a time.
If I go to a flight school where I can get my ratings quickly I wouldn't be out of school for very long. For example, I graduate in may, if I started at flight school in June I could be done by december and then start at college in January. I would only miss one semester.
By June, I'll have finished two years of college, working toward a BS in electrical engineering. The idea I got from ATP was that they are looking for a certain maturity level, someone who'd be able to handle the intensive work load they expect out of you. If everything goes to plan for me, I'll have my entire summer vacation to complete the 90 day ACPP, with no interference with school!