High School Senior with a few questions

Crop Duster

E pluribus unum
I'll be graduating HS this July and trying to figure out the best, for me, path to become a commercial pilot. There's so much info out there, and so many groups with agendas, that its become difficult to determine my best path forward. I live in North NJ and have been accepted to several four year Universities with aviation/pilot programs - Utah State University, Eastern Kentucky, University of Nebraska Omaha, and University of Minnesota at Crookston.

I definitely want a four year degree, but not necessarily need it to be aviation based since I know I can be a commercial pilot other ways. I see my choices as:

  1. Attend a traditional, non aviation, four year university, get my private pilots license separately, and then train at some place like AA's Cadet Academy for my commercial license;
  2. Attend a local two year community school that has a pilots program (Mercer Community College) and then transfer to a four year University, either with an aviation program or not, continuing at a place like AA's Cadet Academy to get my commercial training. Problem with this is I don't get to truly start my "college experience" since I will continue to live with my parents and there is almost no social life at most 2 year schools;
  3. Attend a 4 year University that has specific aviation degrees (I’ve been accepted to several), get a bachelor’s degree from one of these and take their aviation courses and train directly through the university. I believe at graduation I will have my private license and my commercial license, although I may still need flight time depending on the specific training offered (I assume that's when I do the flight instructor route).
  4. Spend summers getting a private pilots license, maybe trying to work at a local airport in exchange for training, and then get training via one of the ways above.
I'd really appreciate some advice from you pros, focusing on advice that includes going the four year college route since I'm definitely do that before trying to fly commercial. Cost is always an issue, but the non aviation portion of the four year program should not be added to the decision since I am doing that no matter which way I go to get my certifications. Its really hard to break out all the pilot related costs in each program, but I assume college programs would be set up to make less of a markup than a for profit flight school.

Thanks everyone!
Going to Aviation College is like going to Plumbing College - or Accounting College or Medical College for that matter. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with either aviating or plumbing. They're both important and highly skilled trades. Done well, they both demand big picture/systems thinking, psychomotor skills, understanding of scientific principals and processes, manual dexterity, etc. But neither comprises nor ought have a degree - let alone a "college" - built around it, except to the extent that these days collections of hucksters selling trinkets from trunks have learned there is is big money to be made selling sparkly, personalized "knowledge" trinkets.

Go to a real college - State U, Ivy League... doesn't matter; Either is as good as you make it. Learn perspective. Learn to read, observe, and think. You know, learn to learn.

During or after college, you can learn to fly at a 61 or 141 flight school. Absent the bloated bloviation of an air-puffed aviation "degree", and present your ability to discern, learn and apply key concepts quickly, you'll learn to fly efficiently and effectively (read: less expensively). And if it turns out you decide not to fly, you'll be well prepared to learn something else efficiently and effectively.
I'd say pick a university you want to go to that has an ATP flight school at the local airport. Go have fun in college and get your 4 year degree in something useful. Figure out a timeline to knock out your ratings with ATP (Working on private and instrument your first two semesters, knock out commercial and CFI over the first summer) and instruct there during your sophomore-senior years of college.
ASU has a partnership with ATP. They handle their flight program.

@Pilot 2 B … dude. Go to Mercer x 1000!