As research shows, one of the top reasons given by students for not enrolling in flight training is cost. While we can debate whether this reasoning is monetary or perceived value, at the end of the day the fact remains that whether or not one has the money, training seems expensive if the experience falls short of expectations.
I participate in many discussions on this issue and believe the long-term solution to this problem is for the training industry to learn to consistently create value for students–a return on investment in the form of a great experience. Only then will living the dream be worth it, irrespective of price. However, this is not an overnight solution, so it is necessary to find immediate ways to combat the perceived price barrier.
Sennheiser S1 Aviation Headsets has just launched a scholarship program called “Live Your Dream.” Any flight student has a chance to win $1,500 towards training. Essentially, both the flight school and student register at http://www.sennheiser-liveyourdream.com/. Then, each student submits his story via text or video entry, telling why he wants to become a pilot (there are previous entries posted on the site to offer inspiration). Each month, a panel will select one entry and award the scholarship, which is payable directly to the flight school to help fund the winning student’s tuition. This really is a great program, and the reasons are plentiful.
First, the money. While $1,500 doesn’t cover all the training, Sennheiser and its partners are enabling courtships between students and flight schools. The largest barrier to entry is eliminated, and if the flight school creates a great experience, the student will find the remaining tuition to continue–as we know, people generally find the money for what they really want (the annual Hawaii golf trip or spring break in Cancun pales in comparison to living a dream!).
Second, Sennheiser has partnered with a number of companies such as iFlight Planner, Saitek, and others to add even more value to the program. These partners offer additional prizes and product support to the winning students and their schools. More and more companies are jumping on board as the program gains awareness.
Third, the benefits go further because in addition to enabling a new student, Sennheiser sends a “Live Your Dream” ambassador (such as myself or the phenomenal aerobatic act, The Aerostars) to your school to host an award ceremony as well as give a motivational presentation to your students and potential students from the local community. Moreover, the ambassadors come armed with solid marketing expertise to help flight schools grow their bottom line.
“Live Your Dream” positively impacts your students, local community, and business. Moreover, it helps grow aviation–one of humanity’s greatest achievements upon which modern day society depends. I hope many students and flights schools will take advantage of this program, and I also hope that a multitude of aviation companies will support it. It’s in everyone’s interest to grow the pilot population, from the kid who dreams of flight, to the business man who relies on the airlines, to the impoverished family in need of medical attention, and of course all the businesses that contribute to and benefit from these aspects. No one is immune to aviation, so check out www.sennheiser-liveyourdream.com and help turn dreams into reality while also having a positive impact on your business and the aviation industry as a whole.
–Ravi, Sennheiser ambassador, musician, and aviation motivational speaker