I’m a junior, working on my private pilot license (FAA PPL-ASEL). I soloed last month and will get my license before the summer ends.
One worry I have is that colleges, especially the selective ones, will look upon it poorly.
For one, it just reeks of privilege (e.g. this is just some rich kid who spent a bit of time doing rich kid things). But in reality, it’s a huge effort to get a license—nothing at all like getting a driver’s license. And even though my family is fairly well off, I’ve still had to come up with the money to pay for half of the license myself, and so I do a bunch of yard work and house repair for neighbors (house painting, tree care, helping them with projects, etc.). But I don’t have records of employment and I don’t have an official employer—will colleges take my word for it that I work for neighbors for payment? Will they care?
For another, flying planes (and paying for it) has been the most time consuming thing I’ve done this year apart from school and sleep, and as much as I love it, it has prevented me from other activities. I know schools, especially the Air Force Academy, really value leadership… and I have minimal experience there. I have a leadership-ish position in a community service group I participate in regularly, and I’m in the process of starting an effort to introduce a math tutoring program for a local middle school with my school’s math club. That’s it. And I’m really worried about it. Being a pilot, it seems, doesn’t demonstrate leadership—I’m in the cockpit alone!
The one thing I hope this does for me is demonstrate to colleges that I already have a demonstrated passion for, and maybe even a level of expertise in, the industry in which I want to pursue a career. Maybe it’s not a research/intern position, and maybe it’s not a national science competition, but would colleges still think of it in a similar light? Would they value it for that?
Also, how the heck do I put it on an application? I can talk about it like an EC but having the actual license, I assume, would count as some sort of accomplishment/award instead. Can I list it as such?
Thanks in advance, from a worried junior!