Disney College Program: When is the Right Time?

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With the recruiting season for Fall  programs just around the corner it is a pretty good time to decide when to participate in the Disney College Program. There are a lot of factors to take into account when picking which program works best for you but in my opinion the most important ones are these: calendar, academics, and heart. Stick around while I explain them and hopefully you’ll be able to make a better informed decision on when to send in that application!

Calendar – The most obvious of the three main factors is of course the actual time that you will be participating. There are generally four different windows for participating in the Disney College Program and they look a little something like this:

  • Spring: January – May
  • Spring Advantage: January – August
  • Fall: August – January
  • Fall Advantage: May – January

The first thing to keep in mind is what you might like to be home for during the year. If being away for the fall/winter holidays is absolutely unacceptable to you then check out spring programs. If you want to participate after graduating or if you want to escape to warmer climates for the first half of winter then apply for fall. An important thing to remember is that you can apply to extend your program for up to one full calendar year. If you think you might like to extend your program to work for the company longer I would suggest for you to consider a spring program so that there is plenty of time over the summer to take the fall semester off of school.

Academics – It is the Disney College Program, after all, so this topic was bound to come up. Talk to your advisor about how the program fits into your academic plan. Most schools will offer credit for internships, though some might make you do a little extra work (like bringing the experience back to campus via a symposium or writing a reflection journal). Find out what would be involved in getting credit before you commit to an application.

In my case, I couldn’t take the time off school to participate because my school didn’t recognize the Disney College program as an internship for credit nor as a study abroad program. As such I would have needed to take a semester off of school to participate. Since I wouldn’t be earning credit for my time in the program, I would have had to come back as a ‘super senior’ and would have lost some of my scholarship funding for taking more than four academic years to complete my schooling. Pretty crazy! Another thing to keep in mind is that there are often certain classes only offered one semester per academic year. Don’t apply for a fall program if a class vital to your major is only offered in the fall at your school!

Your heart – This one might sound a little cheesey but it’s truly the most important. Are you ready to commit to living possibly across the country from your friends and family? I know many people go far away to college but there is a certain sense of security there with all the college visits before hand – and that meal plan that you pay for. Everything is 100% on your own on the Disney College Program! Are you ready to work long, crazy hours? Disney is pretty strict when it comes to calling in too many times. This is a working experience, not a vacation!

There is one bonus factor to think on that is possibly the most important of them all: which coast?! Disney has College Programs and Professional Internships at both Disney World and Disneyland. When you’re applying you can pick one or both of the parks to send your application to!

Time to get the ball rolling now that you’ve worked through all the big ticket things to take into consideration when picking a time to apply. If you’re sure you know which program is best for you, get your ducks in a row so you’re all set to apply as soon as the applications open. Best of luck!

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