High school students in McKinney, Texas, can jump-start their college aviation careers now that nearby LeTourneau University and Collin College have partnered with the McKinney Independent School District to allow both college and high school credit for aviation courses.
The dual-credit courses, including flight training, will allow high school students the potential to earn an associate’s degree from Collin College and up to 15 aviation credit hours toward a Bachelor of Science degree in aviation management from LeTourneau University. The three schools formalized the arrangement during a signing ceremony at McKinney National Airport Nov. 16.
LeTourneau University’s aviation facility is at the McKinney airport north of Dallas, and McKinney students have access to an FAA-approved flight simulator on which students can log portions of their flight training, said Fred Ritchey, the college’s dean of aviation.
The partnership allows aviation students to fast-track their college careers and get a jump on other pilots just beginning their aviation career studies, Ritchey said.
“They can graduate with an Associate’s Degree in two years so that means they are in the workforce two years ahead of their classmates,” he said.
“The whole objective of engaging in this partnership is to ensure that students can earn their college degree with half the financial investment in half the time, yet still receive a world-class education as a professional aviator,” said Philip Coyle, provost and executive vice president for LeTourneau University.
Enrollment in the school district’s aviation program has grown substantially since 2011, when it began with 40 students. The McKinney high school aviation program now counts more than 300 students in its ranks.
Louis Smith, a retired airline captain and founder of Future & Active Pilot Advisors, a company that tracks professional pilot hiring trends, said pilot positions have risen rapidly in the last five years.
“It’s a great opportunity for north Dallas-based students,” said Ritchey.