There are 2 variables at the academy that I didn’t see mentioned. If it was, I apologize for restating it.
1. Of the 1200 +/- going into the academy,about 800+/- initially speak of wanting to fly. Probably higher. But after a couple years at the academy, understanding military life better, and realizing there’s a minimum 10 year commitment after graduating to become a pilot, many who were excited about being a pilot change their mind and don’t apply to be a pilot. Throw in those who aren’t qualified to be a pilot and the number competing for a pilot slot drops even further. In average years, the academy doesn’t fill all its pilot slots and actually gives more back to rotc. So in reality, at the academy, if you still want a pilot slot, and you’re qualified, you do have an almost guaranteed shot at it. Maybe not 100%, but pretty close to it. Like I said, many years, the academy doesn’t fill all its pilot slots and gives more to rotc.
2. This variable is very important. At the academy, your major has absolutely no impact or even considered when applying to be a pilot. You can major in engineering, behavioral science, history, management, communications, etc. Pilots are of every major the school offers. Rotc on the other hand isn’t like that. It’s really difficult getting into rotc if you want to major in management or history. Then, if you do have such a major, competing for a pilot slot with such a major makes your odds even lower.
So in the end, if you can get an appointment to the academy, you graduate, and you are qualified, a pilot slot is so much easier to attain. And I would go as far as saying almost guaranteed. They barely get 500 or so who want to be pilots come the 3rd year. Many have changed their mind and the academy has a difficult time filling all their pilot slots.