If you are nervous about how to present yourself as a great flight school candidate, there is a lot you can do while preparing your application to put your best foot forward.
Even if you have never so much as stepped foot on an airplane as a passenger, flight schools will still take your application seriously if you present a professional image, maintain humility, focus on strong communication, and indicate a serious desire to learn.
Focusing on these tips will set you apart from other candidates who might take their admission for granted. Demonstrating that you are a serious student from the start will help to make the admission process simpler for both you as well as the flight school. Once you have chosen the best school for you, show that you are the best flight school candidate with these tips.
Present a Professional Online Image
It is always a good idea to take a close look at your social media postings, no matter how recent. Take a close look at your Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram accounts. Consider your original posts as well as your shares, likes, and replies. Now put yourself in the shoes of the person deciding whether to admit you to the flight school. Would you let yourself in?
We all like to show our fun side on social media. However, divisive language, offensive content, and humor which is easily misinterpreted might not only trip up your flight school application, but future employment opportunities as well. Moreover, if you want to make a career as a pilot, it is important to create an image of a person who is trustworthy, respectful, and intelligent. It is not necessary to go on a deleting spree and falsely present yourself as a person you are not, but consider what you would think of a pilot whose feed was full of belittling words and bragging posts about breaking the rules as much as possible. Would you get on an airplane he or she is flying?
This is also a good time to begin presenting yourself as an aviation professional, even if you are not yet eligible to fly for pay. Following the accounts of industry leaders and informational feeds will show that you are interested in becoming part of the world of flight. In addition, you are never too young or too new to start building a professional network and creating online profiles on such sites as LinkedIn and in aviation discussion communities.
Focus on Strong Communication
To be the best flight school candidate possible, it’s important to focus on communication. As you become more immersed in the communication side of aviation, take care in how you interact with others. Ask respectful questions, contribute thoughtful replies, and inspire others. Treat everyone as a potential flying colleague, employer, teacher, or Federal Aviation Administration check airman. Connect with other flight students to exchange tips, form encouraging communities, and seek information. Then, as you become an experienced flight student and private pilot yourself, turn and help new pilots. After all, you probably know how that person feels.
Even if writing is not your strong suit, there is no time like the present to improve your communication skills. There are plenty of online grammar assistance available, and running your posts and replies through spellcheck only takes a moment. This fine-tuning of what you would like to communicate, also gives you a chance to critically think about what you are about to publish and ensure that you will not regret posting those words and images for the whole world to see.
You might think that pilots do not need to concentrate on communication skills, but the opposite is true. It is vital for pilots to speak clearly, write with clarity, and quickly and efficiently present information and problems to others. Particularly if you enter the business or administrative side of aviation, you will communicate on a daily basis. Even if you fly for fun or do not plan to leave the cockpit in your career, you still represent aviation to the members of the general public. Most people have only a basic understanding of aviation, and your ability to answer questions or make a complicated concept easy to grasp contributes to the health and growth of the industry.
This is especially true if you decide to become a flight instructor, whether for a season or a career. Flight instructors must effectively pass on vital knowledge to their students. They must not only absorb and understand visual and written information; they must communicate it in a effective and actionable way. It is never too soon to develop these skills, and to show that you have mastered them on your flight school application.
Follow Directions and Engage in Basic Etiquette
This might sound like the most basic aspect of preparing to become a flight school candidate but the information you hand over, as well as the way you submit it, creates the first impression on those who will make decisions. Unfortunately, a lot of pending pilots do not carefully read the directions a flight school offers and you can easily stand out simply by absorbing these details and responding appropriately.
Take note of deadlines and search the flight school’s website for information before calling with frantic or basic questions. Attach all the information the school calls for, such as proof of graduation, student pilot certificate, essay, copies of logbooks from any flying time you might have previously accumulated etc. When communicating with the school, do so as professionally as possible. Speak politely and succinctly, thank every person for his or her time, and send thank-you notes after in-person interviews to follow up.
Show Humility: Indicate a Serious Desire to Learn
Some flight schools might ask to meet you before deciding on your application. This is not the time to inform potential instructors how many times you have seen Top Gun or announce that you do not need ground school or sim time because you do so well at Microsoft Flight Simulator. Instead, listen carefully and ask informed questions, for instance about the airplanes the flight school uses. As a flight school candidate, this is the best possible time to express an appreciation for the seriousness of flight training.
Tamu Smith-Kohls serves as the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Marketing for California Aeronautical University. She has worked in the aviation industry in various roles for 24 years. As a United States Air Force retired veteran, she has a unique appreciation for the aviation industry. Tamu has served in Information Systems as a Network Administrator, Aerospace Flight Medicine as a Health Services Manager, and Air Force Recruitment and Marketing. She holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology; a Master’s in Business Administration and is a Certified Neuro Linguistic Practitioner. Her passion is motivating, training, coaching and serving others to reach their best potential.