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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6 thoughts on “Disney College Program: When is the Right Time?”
I am a freshman at Adrian College in Michigan, and ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted to work at Disney. A couple of my family members did the college program, and one actually works for Disney! My question for you is, when is the best time to actually do it? While you’re still in college- and if so, what year? Or is it better after you’ve graduated? Thank you!
For somebody who is really, really sure they want to work at Disney like you I would say go for it as soon as you feel comfortable applying. Wait until you’re settled on campus academically – talk to your advisor to create a plan that allows for a semester or two off and incorporates the credits you can earn from the program. I would say Sophomore year is the earliest you’d want to apply. Aim for fall or fall advantage because it’s easier to take off one full academic year if you choose to extend your program to spring than to take off spring of one year and fall of the next.
I usually recommend applying after graduation because it’s the easiest in terms of staying on permanently with the company if you want but it’s kind of a one-shot deal. If you don’t get accepted to the program there isn’t a next semester to try again!
And there’s always the option to do several programs! I have a friend who did it three different times – they love hiring people back (provided they have a good record!)
Thank you for your input- this helped a lot!
The Disney College Program is something that I’ve always wanted to try. The reason that I wanted to post a comment, though, is because I noticed that you graduated with a Creative Writing degree. I am going to be a junior in high school this year and was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about how you chose your college experience. I have thought about a writing degree, but I am not sure where it would lead me. Because I believe that you and I have some common interests, I am eager to hear from you.
The main thing is to find schools that have a specific creative writing degree. Not everywhere has it. So I found some schools with programs and scoured the internet for what alumni of the program were doing. Most schools will actually have a section on their website to boast about that. That’s how I narrowed down my school choices.
As for where it could lead you: there’s always writing novels! But more ‘realistically’ there is being an editor, working in publishing, working for a magazine, going into marketing or advertising, communications, TV, radio. It’s sort of what you make it, what you focus on, and where you look to make your connections. For example, working over the summer at a local TV station as a creative writing major could land you an internship at somewhere like ABC. Writing for your school’s newspaper can get you a job at a newspaper/magazine.
Thank you for responding; I really appreciate it!