I also thought ATP was campus-like before joining. When I first came there, to my surprise it wasn’t like I expected at all, it’s more like a small office. 1 small room for a single engine sim, 1 small room for a multi engine sim, 2 classrooms for students to study, a few tables and chairs, a front desk, and that’s about it.
I had more free time in my ppl phase than I did in my instrument phase. This is because in ppl, if weather was bad, you had a lot of extra free time. I probably had more free time because I got the writtens out of the way as well before hand.
In instrument phase, my checkride date is approx 1 month from when I just got my ppl. So there is a lot of info to learn in 1 month, and not only that, but even on bad-weather days you have to sim. So you’re occupied no matter what. Add to that a 1,200 question bank in sheppard you have to know, and you’re even more screwed.
So yeah, I say come in with writtens already done and you’ll have somewhat of more free time.