I will be starting college in the fall of 2021. Would I be better off with a civil engineering degree (as a back up career) while I build hours and earn ratings or go with an aviation management/professional pilot degree?
We aren’t huge fans of aviation degrees. They’re generally very expensive, take far too long and as you point out offer no back up should aviation not work out.
This is a subjective question. You will get varying answers depending on who you ask. We’re all graduates of ATP and believe in the program. We also think it’s better to just focus on college first before starting flight training. It’s easier to focus on one thing at a time. Flying is also a diminishing skill. It’s something that should be done consistently with as few gaps as possible, another reason why we’re fans of ATP.
You will need to assess your own situation and make your own decision on this one. No matter which path you choose, the ratings are the same. Some programs offer multi engine time some don’t.
You also need to consider what your plan is to build time after the program and factor that into your decision. You will need to meet the minimum hiring requirements and flight training alone won’t get you there. Most instruct but that’s not the only way.
The best thing you have going for you is your youth. If you want to finish college first before flight training you will not have missed a beat because the minimum age to hold an ATP is 21.
I am not a fan of aviation degrees. They tend to be very expensive and give on absolutely no backup plan at all. I wold recommend getting a degree in something else that interests you. If that happens to be civil engineering, then so be it.