NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) ó As it turns out, Scotty McCreery can have it all.


The platinum-selling teen and former ďAmerican IdolĒ champ began his freshman year at North Carolina State University recently and heís managed to work out a schedule that allows him to balance his college education with his country music education.


Itís not the first test McCreery has passed on his quick rise to fame, first winning Season 10 of ďIdol,Ē then becoming the youngest male to enter the Billboard 200 at No. 1. While the siren call of celebrity has had a strong pull, McCreery has said all along he also wants to maintain the normal life heíd been planning before he was swept away by ďIdol.Ē


Thatís why he chose N.C. State over a school closer to Nashville. He lives in an off-campus apartment in Raleigh with lifelong friends, just 15 or 20 minutes from his home in Garner and only an hour from Music City by plane.


He goes to class on Mondays and Wednesdays, where heís mostly been left alone to study by courteous fellow students.


Then he either joins the Brad Paisley tour on the road or works with producer Mark Bright on writing and assembling songs for his next album. Heís even managed to slip in intramural football on Tuesdays. Well, most Tuesdays.


ďGoing to State, it gives me a chance to have a little bit of a home base, to have a little bit of normalcy Ė whatever normal is,Ē McCreery said. ďI think itís good for me as a person. Iím still figuring out what my normal is.Ē


What isnít normal is the interest in McCreery by fans. His popularity is off the charts in the country music world where the average male star is usually in his 30s. McCreery doesnít turn 19 till later this month and there are signs everywhere that his popularity continues to grow.


Billboard and Variety both just named him one of musicís top young stars.


And even his Christmas album, ďChristmas with Scotty McCreery,Ē due out next week, shows signs of unusually strong fan interest. Itís Universal Music Groupís top preorder this year, outselling even Lady Gaga and Kanye West.


The goal now, McCreery says, is to lock in those fans, which requires him to seek a well-rounded education. Monday through Wednesday heís working on 12 credit hours toward his communications degree.


Thursday through Sunday, itís all about learning the secrets of longevity in the country world.


About the only accolade McCreery doesnít have is a top 10 song at country radio, something he knows heíll need if he wants to be doing this at 40.


ďWeíre still looking for songs because thatís what the second album is about for me,Ē McCreery said.


ďIím going to be picking and choosing. Country music is about the songs. This last year Iíve had sold-out shows, Iíve won awards and stuff, but I havenít had that huge monster hit yet. Thatís a song I really need to have.Ē