Is becoming a pilot on your radar? The latest partnership between Vaughn College and Atlas Air’s University Pipeline Program can put you and aspiring pilots in the captain’s seat faster—with less expense—all while receiving exceptional benefits and support. Buckle up as Ron Ruggeri, online technical specialist instructor in the aviation department at Vaughn, sheds light on this exciting collaboration that can fast-track the careers of tomorrow’s pilots.

A new era of opportunity

The purpose of this program is twofold: It has been designed to grow Atlas Air’s pipeline of qualified applicants for employment in high-demand positions as well as increase career opportunities for qualified Vaughn College flight students. Through the University Pipeline Program, Atlas Air will recruit, train and hire qualified Vaughn graduates, thus affording them a new era of opportunities and benefits that can accelerate their career trajectories.

Program timeline

As you may expect, there is a structured timeline which each student must follow to ensure he or she has all the required licenses and flight hours to qualify for this opportunity. Ruggeri emphasizes the timeline students should follow:

  • In their sophomore year, students should begin their instrument rating to secure the following five licenses: private, instrument, commercial, certified flight instructor—single-engine airplane (CFIA) and certified flight instructor instrument.
  • In their senior year (or seventh semester), Ruggeri said flight students begin their CFIA and start building flight hours toward the required 1,000 hours in order to obtain their Restricted Airline Transport Pilot License (R-ATP). Notably, aspiring pilots must be at least 23 years old to be eligible for this license. And the cost for obtaining these hours is expensive: flight hours can cost up to $300 per hour, bringing the total to $300,000 for the required 1,000 hours. For this reason, Ruggeri said many students opt to instruct during this period to offset the expenses associated with their flight training.

Program requirements

To be considered for the Atlas Air Pathway program, each candidate must meet the following criteria:

  • Maintain a 3.0 grade point average
  • Not have any background check disqualifications
  • Submit an application, résumé and introduction that details his or her aviation journey and career aspirations– if applicable, applicants must continue to update their résumés and total time
  • Submit a letter of recommendation from a professor from the specific industry-affiliated program

Graduates selected to take part in the Atlas Air Pathway to Success program will be granted preferential interviews with Atlas Air. To be considered, candidates must meet these and other criteria:

  • No more than two training failures on required ratings (excluding private pilot)
  • First class medical certificate
  • Serve as a CFI for Heritage Flight Academy or other Vaughn-affiliated 141 flight training school
  • Letter of recommendation from a flight instructor and professor from the Aircraft Operations (Flight) program
  • Graduated with required academic experience for Restricted Airline Transport Pilot (R-ATP)
  • Reach R-ATP eligibility and required minimum flying experience within two years of graduation
  • Must not be part of any other airline pathway or cadet program after signing the offer letter with Atlas Air
  • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) qualification preferred

University Pathway to Success Program benefits

Among the most exciting aspects of the program are the considerable benefits that Vaughn students will receive. If you’re still thinking about the cost of the flight hours, the next part may put your mind at ease. Check this out. Qualified and selected students may:

  • Receive 500 free hours of flight time, courtesy of Atlas Air
  • Seamlessly transition into the role of First Officer at the age of 23, flying prestigious aircraft such as the 777 or 747
  • Get promoted to Captain faster than the typical seven-year timeframe
  • Enjoy a unique work life-balance that exists in cargo flying offering a two weeks on/two weeks off schedule; plus Atlas Air covers the cost of departure seats to ensure that pilots are able to commute home to see their families

A commitment to diversity

Vaughn and Atlas Air also share a common commitment to diversity. Vaughn serves a diverse student body of about 1,200 students, 80 percent of whom are from under-resourced communities.

“Vaughn is so pleased to deepen our partnership with Atlas Air and provide an expanded pipeline of talented, diverse graduates who want to contribute to the company’s success,” said Dr. Sharon B. DeVivo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vaughn College. “This is another example of Atlas’ commitment to developing, hiring and promoting aviation professionals and investing in our students—the next generation that will change the world.”

Is becoming a pilot on your radar? For complete details, and to determine eligibility, contact Ron Ruggeri at Vaughn College. You can apply to the program here.

Many high school graduates today are wondering if attending college is a worthwhile investment. They are wondering if the effort, time and money could be saved with potentially more valuable on-the-job experience. It’s best to think of the value of a college degree in terms of earning potential over time. Bachelor’s degree holders generally earn 75% more than those with just a high school diploma, according to “The College Payoff,” a report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. College graduates with four-year bachelor’s degrees are also more likely to have health insurance through their jobs, contribute to a 401(k) and own a home.

Many of the careers in aviation, aeronautics and technology that Vaughn prepares students for require a certain level of training, certification or degree for entry into the field. Vaughn also sets students up for lifelong success with additional support, which we are about to dive into!

Scholarships and Financial Aid

The rising cost of college and fear of student debt are among the top reasons why students choose not to attend college. Online learning during the pandemic also made students question if a college education was worth it. At Vaughn, we recognize that attending college is an expensive undertaking, and our admissions advisers will work with you to find financial solutions that will make attending college possible based on your individual needs. After all, 90 percent of Vaughn students receive some type of financial aid, and academic excellence is recognized by awarding college scholarships to high-achieving students who wish to pursue bachelor’s degrees.

Another attractive feature for Vaughn students is the new Scholarship Universe tool, which expands scholarship opportunities even further to new and current students. Students can access the Scholarship Universe portal to see what scholarships they are eligible for, get information and deadlines, apply and check application status all in one place.

National Society of Leadership and Success

The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) is the nation’s largest leadership honor society in the United States, with more than 1.5 million members and 700+ chapters nationwide and Vaughn has recently established a chapter on campus. It is the only society of its kind to have earned accreditation for its programming, which is an outstanding benefit for participating students. This milestone is due in large part to Vaughn’s long standing partnership with United Airlines whose sponsorship includes all membership fees, thus making it affordable for every qualifying Vaughn student to join. Since the NSLS chapter was established at Vaughn in March of 2022, 86 students have been formally inducted and 239 have accepted the invitation to become a member. 

NSLS inductees at Vaughn College

So, why is this big news? NSLS differentiates itself from traditional honor societies in the following ways:

  • Students must complete a step-by-step leadership development program in order to be inducted. For Vaughn students, this includes doing through the orientation and leadership training day, attending three speaker series presentations and participation in three Success Network Teams (SNTs) where students create personal goals and support each other to achieve them.
  • The curriculum offers students opportunities to develop many in-demand skills such as leadership communications and team building.
  • Additional expertise is provided for the personal development disciplines that today’s highly motivated employers are demanding.

Residence life and housing

Living on campus can make the college experience even greater! When you live and study at Vaughn, you’ll become part of a community, develop lasting friendships, have easy access to campus resources, clubs and activities. According to a national study conducted by The Association of College and University Housing Officers – International (ACUHO-I), living on campus has a profound impact on student persistence and engagement. Additionally, supporting the whole student learning and development through environmental, social, physical, intellectual, financial, emotional, spiritual and occupational opportunities is something Vaughn takes very seriously. 

Vaughn’s residence hall features all suite-style fully furnished suites with semi-private bathrooms, air conditioning, cable TV connection, high speed internet and 24/7 security while classes are in session.

Residence hall common areas include:

Vaughn students working out at residential hall gym

  • Lobby Lounge – For gatherings, gaming, streaming and just hanging out with friends.
  • Kitchen – Cooking, prepping meals, reheating and food storage. (NOTE: Meal plans are required for resident students.)
  • Multi-purpose room – Study room, presentation practice space and events.
  • Fitness Center – with spectacular views of New York City
  • Laundry facilities

The unique Vaughn student experience

College is so much more than hitting the books and cramming for exams. At Vaughn, we take the college experience to another level through a hands-on, experiential learning approach. “Learn-by-doing” opportunities give students the confidence, problem-solving, teamwork, leadership and communication skills they need to succeed in their fields of study.

Through priceless exposure to out-of-the-classroom experiences, students gain a competitive edge for success. Here are some of the exciting student experiences that Vaughn offers:Robotics club

  • Opportunities to present research, projects and papers at professional conferences and networking events
  • Internships
  • Student clubs and team competitions in areas such as uncrewed aerial vehicles, robotics, rover and aviation maintenance
  • Industry speakers
  • Professional gateway partnerships that provide career pathways for Vaughn graduates

We hope this blog has inspired you to rethink your path to college and the value a degree will bring to your career and life. Taking the first step toward your future begins with exploring your college options. At Vaughn, we offer degrees in today’s most sought-after industries. From engineering and technology to management and aviation, we have degree programs that will give you a competitive edge in today’s workforce. With so many opportunities and possibilities for your future, now is the time to see all the great things that are happening at Vaughn. Schedule a visit. Or, better yet, apply today!