Michael Zarate recently won our second Fan of the Week award on our Driver Solutions Facebook page. Michael is an Army vet turned truck driving school graduate, and is preparing to start his new career with USA Truck. We sat down with Michael and got to know more about him and his tips for success during school. Today, we're going to share what he had to say about passing CDL training and making the most of your experience.
What advice do you have for someone going through truck driving school?
I guess the biggest piece of advice I have is to not underestimate truck driving school. It's hard to describe - it's not like an Army school. It has a different structure to it.
The truck driver training took place in an older building, but don't let the looks of the building fool you - they take the training seriously . And even though their success is tied to your success, they won't let you pass until you're ready. The class in front of mine had some students who struggled, but the CDL training instructors worked with them. They didn't let them move along until they were ready.
My advice to anyone coming into CDL training is if you want to get it done in the time allotted, you need to take it seriously. That starts from the first test they give you in the classroom. You have to get an 80 percent or higher, or else it may take you longer before you can get behind the wheel.
You have to come in knowing that it's a tough curriculum. The mental part, and then the second week backing... it's tough. There were times when it was hot and uncomfortable in the truck, but you know what? As soon as you got finished, you were in a truck again. The following week you were riding along. Then, the next week, when you were driving, you had to remember everything you learned in backing the week before. You only get so many chances to back tha ttruck up at an angle, so it's important to pay attention.
People coming in need to realize that it's not easy and they can fail. They can be held back. It's all about the right mindset, because it's a challenging school. The more prepared you are heading into truck driving school, and the better your mindset while at school, the faster you will be able to move along and get out on the road making money.
Some students are better at getting behind the wheel and shifting. You need to come in that first day and say, "ok, this is not going to be a cake walk. I'm going to have to study when I get back to my room at night. Go to the truck lot after hours and practice your pre-trip inspection with other people."
Use the time you have there to get it done and get on out of there and onto your new career.
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