In life, you have lots of options. Flying is no different. You have many instruction options for how and where you will learn, how much it will cost, what you will get out of it, and what you can do with it.
What is not optional is the FAA requirements for flight instruction. Reminder: Private Pilots are required to...
- Train a minimum of 40 hours flight time including 20 hours with a qualified flight instructor and 10 hours solo-flying time.
- Train 3 hours of cross-country flying (more than 150 nautical miles).
- Train 3 hours of night flying including a cross-country flight over 100 nautical miles with 10 takeoffs and landings.
- Pass the written FAA knowledge test.
- Train 3 hours in preparation for the FAA practical test (checkride).
- Pass the FAA oral and practical tests
- Present a valid third-class medical certificate as proof of medical health.
You'll probably spend more than 40 hours in preparation for your private-pilot certificate, but that's okay. In fact, many pilots quickly earn their student-pilot certificate, then take their time getting ready for the final checkride. Once you have your student-pilot certificate you can fly around by yourself — as long as you adhere to your limits, such as no cross-country flying until you have a cross-country endorsement in your logbook.