@vikow74 - Interesting post. I am an aerospace engineer with a large aerospace manufacturer (undergraduate electrical engineering, graduate EE, math, and physics, PhD Engineering Physics, PE in three states). I have a commercial pilot certificate (airplane single and multiengine land, instrument airplane), and have owned a dozen aircraft at various times over the last 40 years. I do not fly for hire or a living, but rather fly my single engine aircraft in support of consulting work with out of state clients.
If your S is interested in becoming a professional pilot, my strong recommendation is to major in a marketable field other than aviation in college. If your son is mathematically inclined, I would suggest engineering or physics, but engineering is preferable since it has much greater job prospects at the undergraduate level. In most physical sciences, math and physics included, a graduate degree is almost certainly a necessity of one plans to do research in industry or academia in these fields.
Drew IMO is not the first choice for math. Here in NJ, Rutgers, Stevens, and Princeton are the true research universities and leaders in the field with extensive and well regarded math programs. I would consider them before Drew, which has limited faculty and course coverage in math and computer science.
An aviation degree, in my opinion, is next to worthless outside of aviation. Many prospective pilots (not your son, I am certain) are not very interested in academics, but since many commercial airlines and aviation operators today prefer applicants with degrees, the aviation colleges have devised “professional pilot” and “aviation science” degree programs. Most of the professional pilot aspirants I know personally are interested in one thing - flying - and view the college coursework as just another hurdle that must be overcome to get an airline or corporate flying job.
Flying is, and has always been, a precarious career choice. While the airlines today are doing well and are recruiting new pilots, that can change quickly if another economic downturn occurs. Getting all the required flight ratings (private pilot, commercial pilot, instrument, multiengine, and flight instructor) which would be required for an entry level flying job in charter, cargo, etc., operations is very expensive - on the order of $50-60k in addition to college tuition. Aviation colleges’ tuition does not usually include the cost of flight training. In addition to the economic factors affecting the pilot job market, airline pilots must pass a rigorous medical exam every six months. If one develops a medical condition that is disqualifying (of which there are many), he/she is essentially retired. I knew a former airline captain who required a coronary bypass at age 50. He was out of airline flying for almost 2 years, until he was able to satisfy the FAA medical branch that he was back to good health.
Flying for a scheduled airline requires an Airline Transport Pilot certificate. This rating requires 1200-1500 hours of flight time to obtain. Typically, one first receives his or her commercial pilot certificate (which requires 200 hours of flight experience and training) and builds to required time flying for non-airline commercial operations or flight instructing (for which they would earn a salary).
My first flight instructor majored in “aviation business” at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He wanted to be an airline pilot and got a position as a dispatcher with one of the major cargo carriers. He had hoped to get into their flying positions, but for whatever reason was unable to do so. He was lucky to have an aviation related position already, but had that not been the case he would have been out of luck.
I’m not a big fan of aviation colleges in general. Places like Purdue, Univ. of North Dakota, Florida Inst. of Tech., Embry-Riddle, etc. have high tuition for out of state students (in the case of the publics, the privates are high for everyone). The flight training fees in these schools are significantly higher than one can get at a local flight school at a local airport. The FAA certificates and ratings you get are the same regardless of where you learned to fly.
In summary, it is important to have something marketable on which to fall back in case the flying career does not work out, which it doesn’t in a not insignificant number of cases. Engineering is certainly a viable choice, but other marketable fields are viable as well (accounting, etc for example).