I’m sure some current ATP students will chime in with their experiences but as a former student and instructor allow me to give you my take. Yes there are people who have issues keeping up with the pace of ATPs training. It is without question accelerated. ATP was created BY airline pilots to train airline pilots and the training pace is based on that experience. That therefore begs the question if a person cannot keep up with the pace at ATP, what makes them believe they’ll be able to do when they get to an airline? The reason ATP has such great relationships with so many Regionals is specifically because the airlines know ATP graduates have already demonstrated an ability to “keep up”. Something to think about.
If you should decide to go the local “mom and pop” route there are a few things to keep in mind. First, understand that if and when you get hired at a Regional the pace may seem overwhelming. More important while there are some very fine local schools most do not have the resources (aircraft and instructors) to accommodate someone trying to become a professional. Successful training requires consistency and that can be difficult at the local FBO. The main reason I went to ATP was because it took me over 2yrs to get my Private at my local school. I’d fly one day (great), the next week the weather was bad, the week after the plane was out for maintenance, the next the instructor was out. Next thing you know it had been a month and I hadn’t flown and when I did I had to relearn everything I had forgotten.
There are plenty of pilots who’ve gone the local route and if that’s what you chose there’s nothing that would prevent you from getting to an airline. It just might take you a little longer.