Academy Myths Debunked and Advice Offered

JB_Nomee

Newcomer
Apr 5, 2013
16
0
1
None of these are myths debunked from the op and follow up posters as much as they are opinions from people who failed that want to blame any and everything on not passing except themselves.

I.e. staying stby Kim’s didn’t help. It may not have helped you. My group passed 5/5 Kim’s place, 4 out of the 5 were top 5 in the class,, the only people who failed stayed solo at other locations. There are people with “terrible luck” based on what you consider luck, that passed as well. But most of your luck bullet points isn’t really luck. It’s life events. Sickness? You think that’s luck? That’s health. Not having good classmates? Really!?!? There was evidently good classmates cause they passed

More and more of these post are creeping up “I did so much for this job, I invested, I waited two hiring cycles and finally after 3 years I got there and it wasn’t fair”. I’m a millennial as well but it really sucks cause this just shows how f’d up our generation is. Want the easy streak and an easy thing to blame when things don’t go our way. “BUT I TRIED”. Big whoop. You failed. Own your mistakes and move on. Don’t come on throwing a pity party and telling people don’t invest in something they might want more than you. Maybe you had bad study habits in your group and that’s why your group failed. That doesn’t make study groups and group living like Kim’s a myth. Who are you to be the ultimate say so in what’s true and what’s fake.

TL;DR. Don’t invest in this post, just another washout trying to get sympathy.
Dude I passed. I just can also realize that more than capable people can go to OKC and not make it.
 

bobo

Newcomer
Apr 9, 2014
13
1
3
Maybe you should look in the military. Best controllers come from there.
Not necessarily; I knew of a LOT of ex-military controllers who washed at the Academy and others who washed at my Enroute facility. Personally, I think being a military controller can be a liability more than an asset, because there is much you have to 'unlearn' and then learn how to do it the FAA way.

But that said, the best controller I ever knew in my 33 years at my enroute facility was a ex-military controller (USAF). Whether it was the military that made her great or just who she was, well, that's another story.
 

bobo

Newcomer
Apr 9, 2014
13
1
3
Great post; just came back from a class at the Academy, and it brought back a lot of memories of my time there in the screen 35 years ago. Reading the post and the comments, I'm really amazed how some things haven't changed: 50% attrition rate still? You'd think after all these years, the FAA could do a better job of finding the things that predict success in the program, and take a pass on marginal candidates. The taxpayer still pays a bunch for all those washouts.

CTI/OTS/Ex-military have same washout rates? No surprise there. At my facility, some of the worst trainees were CTI grads. They treated certification as a fait accompli, and didn't apply themselves until it was too late. The whole CTI thing was a Bush-era sloppy wet french kiss to the for-profit schools. Back in the early 80s, most of the hires were OTS, and they did just fine.

Anyway, here's a few of my own observations and tips for those going to do the Academy thing:
  • Study, study, and study some more. Find a hard-working study group and join it. You only have one shot at this thing; you can go into maximum overdrive for 3 months when there's a 6-figure job with great bennies at the other end.
  • Pay no attention to the 'big talkers' at the beginning. There is always a major re-arranging of the 'balance of power' after the first graded problems, because that separates those who talk a good game from those who actually got game.
  • There IS a certain 'luck' element. When I went through in the early 80s, the lead instructors were either FAA or contract (Oklahoma U back then). The OU leads were way better. Our lead ('Mad Mike') was a (medical) retired FAA controller. He was really passionate about helping us get through the program, and his passion rubbed off on us. Out of a class of 18, 14 made it. Not bad when the overall washout rate was 50%. The bloodletting would continue when we got to our facility (back then, each enroute class was earmarked for a particular Center). We picked up two people once we got to our facility, and of those 16, 11 made it to CPC.
  • When you get to your facility, join the NATCA local. If you have the bad luck to have an OJT instructor or sup who just doesn't like your face, having your union behind you can level the playing field a lot.

Anyway, great thread!
 

HenryTheAce

Senior Member
Jul 21, 2014
251
0
16
ZMP -> D21
I respectfully disagree on that one. If I'm sick I'm not coming in no matter how shitty the staffing will end up. Not my problem there wasn't enough coverage scheduled..... or the Super Bowl happens to be going on.
If Vikings make the super bowl I wonder how many of my coworkers here at a ZMP will bang in sick
and leave us in the well to drown in traffic
 

Jax

Senior Analyst
Nov 17, 2010
869
32
28
N90-EWR
Great post; just came back from a class at the Academy, and it brought back a lot of memories of my time there in the screen 35 years ago. Reading the post and the comments, I'm really amazed how some things haven't changed: 50% attrition rate still? You'd think after all these years, the FAA could do a better job of finding the things that predict success in the program, and take a pass on marginal candidates. The taxpayer still pays a bunch for all those washouts.

CTI/OTS/Ex-military have same washout rates? No surprise there. At my facility, some of the worst trainees were CTI grads. They treated certification as a fait accompli, and didn't apply themselves until it was too late. The whole CTI thing was a Bush-era sloppy wet french kiss to the for-profit schools. Back in the early 80s, most of the hires were OTS, and they did just fine.

Anyway, here's a few of my own observations and tips for those going to do the Academy thing:
  • Study, study, and study some more. Find a hard-working study group and join it. You only have one shot at this thing; you can go into maximum overdrive for 3 months when there's a 6-figure job with great bennies at the other end.
  • Pay no attention to the 'big talkers' at the beginning. There is always a major re-arranging of the 'balance of power' after the first graded problems, because that separates those who talk a good game from those who actually got game.
  • There IS a certain 'luck' element. When I went through in the early 80s, the lead instructors were either FAA or contract (Oklahoma U back then). The OU leads were way better. Our lead ('Mad Mike') was a (medical) retired FAA controller. He was really passionate about helping us get through the program, and his passion rubbed off on us. Out of a class of 18, 14 made it. Not bad when the overall washout rate was 50%. The bloodletting would continue when we got to our facility (back then, each enroute class was earmarked for a particular Center). We picked up two people once we got to our facility, and of those 16, 11 made it to CPC.
  • When you get to your facility, join the NATCA local. If you have the bad luck to have an OJT instructor or sup who just doesn't like your face, having your union behind you can level the playing field a lot.

Anyway, great thread!

Good post!

I went to the old screen a few years after you (1991), but I agree that my experiences back then are very similar to what the OP describes, so it does seem that things have always been that way there. I remember those OU leads, and yes, they were better than the FAA ones.
 

JNev

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2012
192
2
18
Baltimore/Philly
Nothing better than watching a controller and a guy who thinks he is hot shit because he just got his eods forms argue. /Popcorn
What did I post that makes you say I think I'm "hot shit"? Don't be an unsympathetic dick? The academy process is very flawed?
 

KStoves

Junior Member
Aug 22, 2011
133
1
18
None of these are myths debunked from the op and follow up posters as much as they are opinions from people who failed that want to blame any and everything on not passing except themselves.

I.e. staying stby Kim’s didn’t help. It may not have helped you. My group passed 5/5 Kim’s place, 4 out of the 5 were top 5 in the class,, the only people who failed stayed solo at other locations. There are people with “terrible luck” based on what you consider luck, that passed as well. But most of your luck bullet points isn’t really luck. It’s life events. Sickness? You think that’s luck? That’s health. Not having good classmates? Really!?!? There was evidently good classmates cause they passed

More and more of these post are creeping up “I did so much for this job, I invested, I waited two hiring cycles and finally after 3 years I got there and it wasn’t fair”. I’m a millennial as well but it really sucks cause this just shows how f’d up our generation is. Want the easy streak and an easy thing to blame when things don’t go our way. “BUT I TRIED”. Big whoop. You failed. Own your mistakes and move on. Don’t come on throwing a pity party and telling people don’t invest in something they might want more than you. Maybe you had bad study habits in your group and that’s why your group failed. That doesn’t make study groups and group living like Kim’s a myth. Who are you to be the ultimate say so in what’s true and what’s fake.

TL;DR. Don’t invest in this post, just another washout trying to get sympathy.

Yes, my post is a combination of my opinion and facts. The 50% washout rate is a fact. My ideas as to why it is so low are my opinions (I thought that was obvious).

I'm not looking to blame anyone or anything. I really liked my lead instructors and thought they did a good job. They gave me everything I needed to pass, I just didn't pull it off when it mattered. I also thought I had a really great class which is why I became a believer in the "luck" element. After seeing what everyone was capable of in group study sessions and TSS I thought we would only lose 1 or 2. It didn't work out that way. As far as Kim's place goes, I was pretty clear about saying that staying at Kim's place didn't hurt my chances of success, it just wasn't absolutely necessary to live with classmates as some people have suggested. Kim provides great service, the buildings were nice and well maintained and she was really good about getting us the things we needed. She has also dealt with the FAA for a while and will be understanding (like she was when my class went 6 weeks without getting a per diem check). My only complaint was that $1200 a month is a lot to pay when sharing an apartment with two other guys and for that price, you could have your own place if you don't want roommates. That is a fact, not an opinion.

As far as investing in the career is concerned... a lot of people on this board instantly backed me up and confirmed that CTI grads do not have an advantage over the OTS hires. I had a guy in my class who did go to riddle and also worked at the academy as an RPO for over a year before getting hired. He had the six figure student debt and had invested all of his adult life into the career so he had a lot of pressue on PAs, but it didn't matter. He finished in the high 90s and I'm sure his score is rarely beaten or equalled. He had a good work ethic though and was a smart guy. Had he skipped school and went right to work at the academy as an RPO and got hired OTS I bet he still would have finished at the top of the class and just wouldn't have the debt.

As far as moving on goes, I have. It probably takes longer than a couple weeks for most people, but I had some things going for me. I have a Bachelors Degree and it is in Business Administration- not air traffic control. Once I graduated CTI school I started living life as if getting hired was never gonna happen and pursued another career that was easy to hop back into. I also am lucky that the country is going in the direction it has been and that this happened right after a major tax cut. The stock market keeps hitting new highs, wages keep going up, unemployment is at record low and bonuses are increasing as more jobs are created. It is a great time to unexpectedly be unemployed. After taking some time off to process everything and let the pneumonia go away I got back on my feet. I applied for a job on a Thursday, got a call the next day to set up an interview for the next week. After the interview, I was offered the job and now just need to go through the usual background check/drug tests/physicals to get a start date. I'll be making more (initially) then I would have been if ATC worked out without having to move to someplace I don't want to live. Once all my classmates CPC they will pass me again, but we'll all be in the same social class in the long run.

During my 3 months at the academy I gave it all I had. That being said there probably is some truth in other people wanting it more than I did. I have always worked on my feet doing work that was more blue collar in nature than anything else and I enjoy that type of work. I enjoy having a ton of variety in my days. Had I been offered enroute I would have turned it down because I know that wouldn't have been for me. I really liked the idea of terminal and thought a smaller facility with lots of GA activity would give me the variety I like in my days.

Yes, I'm a millennial. I graduated high school in 2007 and saw the economy crash as I was trying to figure out my career. It was a big factor in wanting to pursue ATC. I liked the thought of a good paying stable government job.

Then immediately after I graduated CTI school they talked about shutting down 150 towers to either reopen as contract towers or remain uncontrolled fields (they abandoned this at the last minute and haven't brought it up in a few years now). They changed their hiring procedures overnight and without warning, which impacted a lot of people who were told that going to college or military was the only way to get this job. The latest thing they are talking about is privatization. This may or may not happen in the near future, but will happen eventually. It needs too. The unstable funding is ridiculous. The government waste spending is also crazy. I never even made it to a facility and already saw this! By the time a student finishes the academy the FAA has invested approximately $100,000 into hiring them (according to the CAMI intro we were given). That means that with 50% graduation rate with classes of 18 people they are wasting about $900,000 per class. Combine that with the enroute class graduation rate that is also around 50% and the FAA is essentially wasting 1.8 million dollars every week on academy washouts alone. It would not be difficult for a private run organization to exceed a bar that has been set so low. The job also doesn't offer many transferable skills and the thought of losing a medical certificate is scary. The stability was what I was after more than the job itself. Once I realized the stability wasn't completely there I'll admit I stopped wanting it as much. I didn't even stay subscribed to the USAJobs updates and only applied to the bid I got hired for because a couple old CTI friends reached out to me to let me know it was happening and I was at a good point in my life to give it a try. I went for it, gave it my best and now it's time to move on.

I wish everyone else pursuing this career the best of luck
 

Papa_Yankme

Junior Member
Sep 17, 2013
93
0
6
Not necessarily; I knew of a LOT of ex-military controllers who washed at the Academy and others who washed at my Enroute facility. Personally, I think being a military controller can be a liability more than an asset, because there is much you have to 'unlearn' and then learn how to do it the FAA way.

But that said, the best controller I ever knew in my 33 years at my enroute facility was a ex-military controller (USAF). Whether it was the military that made her great or just who she was, well, that's another story.
Why would they have to unlearn everything? They follow the exact same rules as other ATC facilities in the US.
 

Jax

Senior Analyst
Nov 17, 2010
869
32
28
N90-EWR
Yes, my post is a combination of my opinion and facts. The 50% washout rate is a fact. My ideas as to why it is so low are my opinions (I thought that was obvious).

I'm not looking to blame anyone or anything. I really liked my lead instructors and thought they did a good job. They gave me everything I needed to pass, I just didn't pull it off when it mattered. I also thought I had a really great class which is why I became a believer in the "luck" element. After seeing what everyone was capable of in group study sessions and TSS I thought we would only lose 1 or 2. It didn't work out that way. As far as Kim's place goes, I was pretty clear about saying that staying at Kim's place didn't hurt my chances of success, it just wasn't absolutely necessary to live with classmates as some people have suggested. Kim provides great service, the buildings were nice and well maintained and she was really good about getting us the things we needed. She has also dealt with the FAA for a while and will be understanding (like she was when my class went 6 weeks without getting a per diem check). My only complaint was that $1200 a month is a lot to pay when sharing an apartment with two other guys and for that price, you could have your own place if you don't want roommates. That is a fact, not an opinion.

As far as investing in the career is concerned... a lot of people on this board instantly backed me up and confirmed that CTI grads do not have an advantage over the OTS hires. I had a guy in my class who did go to riddle and also worked at the academy as an RPO for over a year before getting hired. He had the six figure student debt and had invested all of his adult life into the career so he had a lot of pressue on PAs, but it didn't matter. He finished in the high 90s and I'm sure his score is rarely beaten or equalled. He had a good work ethic though and was a smart guy. Had he skipped school and went right to work at the academy as an RPO and got hired OTS I bet he still would have finished at the top of the class and just wouldn't have the debt.

As far as moving on goes, I have. It probably takes longer than a couple weeks for most people, but I had some things going for me. I have a Bachelors Degree and it is in Business Administration- not air traffic control. Once I graduated CTI school I started living life as if getting hired was never gonna happen and pursued another career that was easy to hop back into. I also am lucky that the country is going in the direction it has been and that this happened right after a major tax cut. The stock market keeps hitting new highs, wages keep going up, unemployment is at record low and bonuses are increasing as more jobs are created. It is a great time to unexpectedly be unemployed. After taking some time off to process everything and let the pneumonia go away I got back on my feet. I applied for a job on a Thursday, got a call the next day to set up an interview for the next week. After the interview, I was offered the job and now just need to go through the usual background check/drug tests/physicals to get a start date. I'll be making more (initially) then I would have been if ATC worked out without having to move to someplace I don't want to live. Once all my classmates CPC they will pass me again, but we'll all be in the same social class in the long run.

During my 3 months at the academy I gave it all I had. That being said there probably is some truth in other people wanting it more than I did. I have always worked on my feet doing work that was more blue collar in nature than anything else and I enjoy that type of work. I enjoy having a ton of variety in my days. Had I been offered enroute I would have turned it down because I know that wouldn't have been for me. I really liked the idea of terminal and thought a smaller facility with lots of GA activity would give me the variety I like in my days.

Yes, I'm a millennial. I graduated high school in 2007 and saw the economy crash as I was trying to figure out my career. It was a big factor in wanting to pursue ATC. I liked the thought of a good paying stable government job.

Then immediately after I graduated CTI school they talked about shutting down 150 towers to either reopen as contract towers or remain uncontrolled fields (they abandoned this at the last minute and haven't brought it up in a few years now). They changed their hiring procedures overnight and without warning, which impacted a lot of people who were told that going to college or military was the only way to get this job. The latest thing they are talking about is privatization. This may or may not happen in the near future, but will happen eventually. It needs too. The unstable funding is ridiculous. The government waste spending is also crazy. I never even made it to a facility and already saw this! By the time a student finishes the academy the FAA has invested approximately $100,000 into hiring them (according to the CAMI intro we were given). That means that with 50% graduation rate with classes of 18 people they are wasting about $900,000 per class. Combine that with the enroute class graduation rate that is also around 50% and the FAA is essentially wasting 1.8 million dollars every week on academy washouts alone. It would not be difficult for a private run organization to exceed a bar that has been set so low. The job also doesn't offer many transferable skills and the thought of losing a medical certificate is scary. The stability was what I was after more than the job itself. Once I realized the stability wasn't completely there I'll admit I stopped wanting it as much. I didn't even stay subscribed to the USAJobs updates and only applied to the bid I got hired for because a couple old CTI friends reached out to me to let me know it was happening and I was at a good point in my life to give it a try. I went for it, gave it my best and now it's time to move on.

I wish everyone else pursuing this career the best of luck
After reading that post, I think that you're better off that things turned out the way they did. ATC is a lifestyle, and you have to want it really bad. Sounds like you were not really that much into it, and the academy screened you out (call it luck if you want).

I was an OTS hire with 0 experience that went through hell in the old screen at OKC in 1991. but I wanted this job real bad,and I wasn't going to let anything stop me. Toughest, most stressful 5 months of my life were spent there, but in the end it paid off as I went straight from OKC to N90 and the OKC screen was harder than checking out at N90 with 0 experience.

Funny you mentioned stability because that's been the one constant for me....this job, the lifestyle, the benefits, and oh yeah, that nice 6 digit salary.

Good luck to you as well!
 

ATC_ZORRILLA

Newcomer
Oct 31, 2016
20
0
1
I just passed enroute academy yesterday along with 10 out of 11 of my classmates, half of us were OTS. For new students coming to the academy take what KStoves said with a grain of salt, if you really want this and have the right mind set from the beginning you can get through this. The evaluators are not there to fail you, if you do what you gotta do you will pass. P.S. I was sick as a dog during my last 3 radar evals, no excuse.
 

sailor_pianist

Trusted Member
Jan 10, 2010
359
0
16
Nowhere
I just passed enroute academy yesterday along with 10 out of 11 of my classmates, half of us were OTS. For new students coming to the academy take what KStoves said with a grain of salt, if you really want this and have the right mind set from the beginning you can get through this. The evaluators are not there to fail you, if you do what you gotta do you will pass. P.S. I was sick as a dog during my last 3 radar evals, no excuse.
Terminal right now is a completely different ball game. Everything KStoves said has been accurate. The terminal pass rates are not trending well.
 

Remington

Junior Member
Aug 16, 2016
112
0
16
Something I read on another site said you spend 2.5 of the 3 months on academics and the last couple weeks in the lab and that that PAs are worth 90% of the grade. Also read people weren’t happy with having to communicate with a computerized voice during the PAs... just what I’ve been researching, not sure how accurate anything is..
 

DL0509

Senior Member
May 26, 2016
153
0
16
Something I read on another site said you spend 2.5 of the 3 months on academics and the last couple weeks in the lab and that that PAs are worth 90% of the grade. Also read people weren’t happy with having to communicate with a computerized voice during the PAs... just what I’ve been researching, not sure how accurate anything is..
Dont believe everything you read from fixfaa.com I bet that site is run by CTI students that didnt get hired or Academy washouts who simply could not make it at OKC. During my last ground PA the Voice req crapped out and never started working so i had to communicate with the RPO and it was a pain in the butt having to figure out was he was saying and respond.
 

ATC_ZORRILLA

Newcomer
Oct 31, 2016
20
0
1
Terminal right now is a completely different ball game. Everything KStoves said has been accurate. The terminal pass rates are not trending well.
Enroute has always been around and lower than 40 percent pass rate.. our pass rate was 91%, all im saying is to the future academy students reading this is that its definitely doable regardless of what Kstoves experienced
 

SayAgain3

Trusted Member
Feb 13, 2017
359
5
18
Enroute has always been around and lower than 40 percent pass rate.. our pass rate was 91%, all im saying is to the future academy students reading this is that its definitely doable regardless of what Kstoves experienced
Year end pass rates for enroute have never been 40% or lower.
 

Stinger

Epic Member
May 24, 2009
1,563
21
38
Something I read on another site said you spend 2.5 of the 3 months on academics and the last couple weeks in the lab and that that PAs are worth 90% of the grade. Also read people weren’t happy with having to communicate with a computerized voice during the PAs... just what I’ve been researching, not sure how accurate anything is..
That's all true. The voice recognition doesn't cause as many problems as people like to think. If you talk with a normal rate, say the correct words, and enunciate without slurring your words together, it makes very few errors.
 

Remington

Junior Member
Aug 16, 2016
112
0
16
That’s good to know... wish there was more of an opportunity to practice the sims... is the lab always open for practice?