Real Answers from Real Pilots

Chicago Students and CFIs

(Jarad Winget) #1

Hi everyone,

I’m new to the forum and so far, it’s been an excellent source of knowledge! I’m contemplating enrollment at the Chicago DuPage location in February or March of next year and wanted to ask a few location-specific questions.

  1. I plan on commuting from my home to DuPage - it’s about an 1 hr and 15 minute drive for me. Is this commute generally doable with the demands on one’s schedule as a student and does it provide enough lead time when one’s schedule could change? I’m married with a home in Chicago, so not having to pay for additional housing is a big financial help.

  2. I read Chris’ post in another topic that CFI school isn’t held at all locations. Is it held at DuPage? Also, I understand that the CFI job location is not guaranteed and that there is virtually no predictability of openings available. At present, I am curious if some locations are more “sought after” or subject to more turnover than others and where DuPage falls from this standpoint.

  3. Are there any DuPage students or CFIs out there on this forum? Would love to hear about your experience at the school. I will be starting from zero time.




  1. 1:15 commute will definitely be a pain but it’s doable. Where I can see it being a problem for you is there are times when the weather’s iffie. Some times weather’s marginal and you may have to hang for a while waiting for it to clear but can’t leave but it doesn’t clear and you’ve driven out for nothing. There’s always ground and sim you could do but closer is better. That said it’s been done.

  2. CFI training is done in Jacksonville, Atlanta and Vegas. Now again there are no guarantees but you may have a good shot at DuPage. Unless things have changed dramatically, Chicago was one of the smaller less popular location (most people like the warmer states). When I did my training I requested TTN (Trenton NJ) which NOBODY wanted. When I asked ATP said “Oh you want Trenton, it’s YOURS!”. DuPage was similar but again no guarantees.


(Josh Barton) #3

Hey Jarad,

I am hoping to get in at the same location at the same time, also from zero time. I had heard that recently Chicago was getting more sought after but who knows. My physical is Monday so I guess I’ll know soon when spots are available.


(Jarad Winget) #4

Adam - really appreciate the responses to my questions. Makes sense about the driving situation, but it’s a trade off I can accept. Making use of the time in other ways as you suggest is a good idea. As long as you think it’s doable, that’s good enough for me.


Thanks for responding too. I haven’t set up my medical yet, but I’m planning to do so soon. As far as spots being available, my understanding is that your location for being a student is at your discretion, but when it comes time to becoming a CFI with ATP after the 9 month program, you are offered locations on an as-available basis.

On a different note, do you plan to start studying or taking your written exams before your start date? Have you taken an intro flight and have you applied for financing? I know there are some incentives for applying to the loan first (intro flight is free if you get approved).


(Josh Barton) #5


It looks like we have the same understanding for the program, both learning and teaching. I live in West Michigan, near Grand Rapids. My wife is a teacher here and has her dream job, so Chicago is obviously my first choice for pretty much everything in this career, student through (hopefully) captain someday.

I absolutely do plan on getting as much done as early as possible. I am applying for financing Monday after my flight physical, then going from there. When I called a few weeks ago, there were 2 spots left in Chicago for the January class. I imagine they have probably been spoken for by now but I am hoping to get enrolled in the earliest possible class.

Are you planning on working at all during school? I am looking for a very P/T job to help make ends meet while I’m in Chicago.




I would strongly recommend against working whilst enrolled in the program. Could you get away with it? Probably, but your studies will suffer. Bear in mind that if you fail two checkrides, you will not be offered the guaranteed CFI position. Also, even one check rode failure might cause a discussion in an airline interview. I fully understand the need to have some income while in training, but I would really urge you to find a way to do it without. Buckle down, eat ramen, make it happen. You are investing a very large amount of money into your training and future, I would not do anything to jeopardize that.


(Josh Barton) #7

Understood, Chris. I need this to pay off so I will definitely heed your advice.


(Jarad Winget) #8


Thanks for the heads up on classes filling up. I’ll probably call admissions this week to get the lay of the land. At this point, January will probably be too early, but February would be ideal. Perhaps @Chris or @Adam might think differently, but taking the next two months to study and knock out the 6 required writtens seems doable to me based on the type of studying required for the writtens.

Regarding the job, I was not planning to take a part-time job in the traditional sense, but my situation is a bit different. I own a small digital marketing company. Some aspects require my daily involvement while others are much more passive. I’ve been working for the past month or so to wind down the elements of my business that require my daily attention. I won’t be bringing in nearly as much, but the extra passive income should help offset some costs. My wife also works full-time, but the training will be a financial strain for us regardless.




I think that two months might be a little tight to do all six writtens, but it is certainly doable. If anything, just get as many as you can out of the way with before starting training, you will be glad that you did.


(Jared Dellinger) #10

Hi Jarad,

I’m actually a student at the Chicago location currently. I am working on my private multi after having just finished up crew and my IFR training. I came in with a private so I’ve been here since August. If you want to know what it’s like to from 0 time I’m sure someone else here can help you learn more about that. I just wanted to give you an overview of the location from my perspective. It is a somewhat smaller location based on what I’ve seen from some of the others like Atlanta. There are approximately 20 students here with 5 instructors.

I actually live in the northern suburbs, married as well, and my commute is similar to what you’re talking about. It’s about 1 hour at off times up to 1:30 during rush hour. Instructors are willing to work with you on scheduling depending on a few factors and so far I have no complaints. Another student lives even farther north from me so about 1:20 non-peak, 1:40 peak traffic.

As for working, I wouldn’t recommend it but then again I’ve seen a couple work PT jobs and they can manage. I think it all depends on your dedication but not knowing you I can’t make a judgement either way.

As for coming back as a CFI, I’m looking to do the same but right now looking at the glut of other students who are also looking to come back to Chicago for various reasons such as wife, kids, owning a house, etc. I think I’m even going to have a hard time with it because there are a few who will reach CFI before me and I’ll be low man on the totem pole. It could change with the turnover occurring but I’m bracing for possibly having to go elsewhere until I can get in here. Something to keep in mind. Adam is also right in that it’s usually not as sought after but like I said there are other factors besides good weather to consider and there seems to be a perfect storm right now of people wanting to return for personal reasons.

That’s all for me. Hope that helped. If you have any more questions feel free to ask away or stop by! There are always students around studying and such.

Jared Dellinger

(Jarad Winget) #11


Really appreciate the insight and overview of your experience with the Chicago location so far. The smaller size of the location is somewhat appealing. I’ve got my first class medical scheduled for next Wednesday, so once I’m clear of it, I plan to come over for an intro flight and meet some of you guys. Can’t wait!

The CFI placement uncertainty is a bit unsettling, but I realize it’s something I’ll have to deal with and that it’s a short-term situation. There is always the opportunity to get hired at another flight school, but I’m guessing this is somewhat competitive in the Chicago area and I’m not sure if you can retain the tuition reimbursement opportunities. I’m wondering if you know anyone who has recently gone down this path before and what the ramifications are.

Thanks again for all the info Jared!




Tuition Reimbursement is only available to ATP instructors.


(Jarad Winget) #13

Thanks Chris, makes sense.


(ravinder dhiman) #14

I have PPL and will be enrolling for February or march classes and i will be visiting Chicago location on Wednesday :wink:

(Johan H Perez Lundqvist) #15

Jarad and Josh,

I am currently thinking of starting at the DuPage location and since I have my husband here in Chicago I would also prefer to do CFI there as well. How has your experience been so far?



(Jarad Winget) #16

Hi Johan,

I actually decided to hold off on starting training, for various reasons, since I last posted here.

However, I’m happy to report that I’ve decided to start at ATP DuPage in late January or February! My loan was just approved, medical completed, and intro flight accomplished, so I’m just shy of booking a class date.

I can say that you are not guaranteed your location preference for CFI, but that you provide your preferences to ATP and you’re then offered a choice. While they guaranty you the job, the location is not guaranteed. CFI job availability from when you or I start could change dramatically by the time we finish.

Best advice: be flexible and have the convo with your spouse about the need to be flexible.

Hopefully we cross paths soon!




Jarad is correct in that ATP will not guarantee a location and I don’t want to give you any false hope. That said certain locations are generally more popular than others based on many factors including weather. While it’s been some time since I completed the program, locations like DuPage, Trenton, Long Island etc (ie, places with harsh winters) were generally easier to get into than say Arizona and Florida.


(Johan H Perez Lundqvist) #18


Are you starting in Chicago soon? I just got my start date scheduled for 3/25. Very excited!