The Disney College Program (DCP) gives students the opportunity to live and work at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or the Disneyland Resort in California. While on the program, students are often able to earn college credit, and they can take classes right through Disney while gaining on the job experience to enhance their resumes post-graduation. The program is not without competition though, and the application process is not as easy to get through as it once was. If you are a college student thinking about applying to the Disney college program, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Join the online DCP community
If you are thinking about applying to the Disney College Program, getting involved in the online DCP community is a great place to start! By joining Facebook groups, Instagram communities, and more, you can get in touch with alumni and get some perspective on the program and the application process from people who have been there. While these communities can be a great resource, don’t forget about Disney’s official sources of information.
The official Disney Internships & Programs Blog and individual DCP recruiters on Twitter will be the quickest and easiest way to find accurate information about the program. Especially during the application process, the online community can be abuzz with rumors and information that may not necessarily be legitimate or up-to-date. So while these groups are useful to find opinions on certain roles and general questions, it’s important to still check for official updates from Disney.
Check that you meet the application requirements
Each season, some applicants are immediately rejected simply because they don’t meet the Disney college program requirements. Before you get your hopes up, check the application requirements and make sure you’re good to go to avoid disappointment. Areas where students sometimes mess up include applying before your first semester of college (so you can be on the program then), and answering questions that require certain answers incorrectly (ie, “Are you willing to work indoors and outdoors in varying weather conditions?”). You also need to be 18 years old by the time your program begins and you are able to apply up to one year after you graduate.
Confirm that your school allows you to participate
The first time I applied for the Disney College Program, I did not make an appointment with my academic adviser soon enough, and I ended up being accepted before finding out that I would not be able to receive college credit for the program. To take a semester off without credit, I would have needed to take a leave of absence, and in my situation, a leave of absence would have violated the terms of my scholarship that allowed me to attend that college. Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed, and now I cannot recommend enough that applicants check, double-check, and triple-check that their schools will be on board!
While checking with your school, also confirm that the program is doable with any financial aid and scholarships. (I can’t be the only one unable to rattle off the terms of their scholarship off the top of their head!). When I learned that I would not receive credit, I was fully prepared to attend summer school or graduate late, but obviously without my scholarship that would not be possible. You should also keep in mind that this kind of information is entirely specific to your individual situation, so asking for guidance on college credit, scholarships, and loans in DCP Facebook groups will not help. Go directly to your counselor, loan provider, financial aid office, or whoever you need to speak to for the correct information.
Take your time on the application
Another reason why some applicants do not make it past the application stage is simply because they rush. They see that the application just went live and they are (understandably) excited. Still, take your time reading every single question. The application is not difficult, and all of the questions are very straightforward, but if you rush and answer one of the necessary yes/no questions incorrectly that could be the end of your process.
If you make a mistake on your application, you won’t be eligible to apply again until the next season, so taking your time is seriously worth it! (And don’t think you can get around this by using a different email or anything like that… Disney always catches on to this and it will only hurt you in the long run).
Stay consistent on the web-based interview
After completing the initial application, one of two things will happen (not necessarily right away). You’ll either receive an invitation to take the web-based interview or you’re application will go to the “submission” stage. (“Submission” is Disney’s way of saying that your application has been submitted and undergone an initial review but it has not been selected to move forward in the process yet. It is possible to come out of submission later in the application season, and contrary to popular belief Disney has confirmed that applications are NOT randomly selected to stay in submission.)
If take the web-based interview, the most important tip you’ll need to consider is to remain consistent in your answers. The questions are all multiple choice, and much of the interview consists of the same questions being asked in different ways. Therefore if you answer these questions differently, you are less likely to pass. This is also the first of many reasons why you should absolutely be honest through the whole process, but more on that later!
Prepare for your phone interview
If you pass the web-based interview you’ll be asked to move on to a phone interview. How long the interview lasts and what it entails seems to vary a lot by the individual applicants and recruiters, but in general you need to be prepared to discuss the roles you’re interested in and how you would handle hypothetical situations with guests. Some students find it helpful to have notes in front of them while others find this distracting, so consider what will work best for you before your call takes place.
Not every recruiter asks for your location and role preferences, so if you want to make them aware of this be prepared to bring it up on your own. And if you have any questions (especially about things that could conflict with certain roles like allergies or tattoos) be sure to bring them up with your recruiter on the phone as well. Lastly, make sure you’re in a quiet place where you can focus during the interview (sometimes dorm living can make this difficult so many applicants interview in their cars).
Be truthful through the whole process
Let’s get back to telling the truth. In any employment/internship, telling the truth is obviously important, and with the Disney College Program you can find yourself in trouble later on if you are not truthful. When selecting which roles you are interested in on the application, you’ll be asked to rank each role by your level of interest. “Low interest” means that you would do the role if that’s what is offered to you, so if you do not have any interest in certain roles it’s important to check off “No interest”. Changing roles on the Disney College Program is extremely difficult and often impossible except in select scenarios, so only selecting what you are honestly interested in is the way to go.
Likewise, talk about your strengths in ways that actually represent you and not what you think the recruiters want to hear. (This will also help ensure that if accepted you’ll receive the best role for you.) And lastly, do not lie about things like allergies, tattoos, disability accommodations, religious obligations or anything of major importance that any employer should know. For instance, if you have an allergy to ingredients in cleaning products, Custodial or Housekeeping are probably not the roles for you. If you select interest in them without realizing this you can let your interviewer know without any issue, but it’s best to think about these things before you apply.
Avoid finding roommates until after you’ve been accepted
The process of linking up with roommates seems to change almost year to year and sometimes midway through the application season. As a result, you may want to avoid confirming who your roommates will be until after everyone is accepted. There is nothing worse than being ready to go in your apartment of four and having someone not get in at the last minute. Additionally, it is not uncommon for Disney to restrict the number of people you can request for roommates and to change this number in the middle of the application season based on housing availability. While you can definitely still find roommates during this, just know in advance that there is always a chance your apartment may change.
Don’t forget that you can always opt for random roommates. When you live with roommates at all, whether it be in the Disney College Program or any other roommate set up, you’re always taking a chance that it won’t work out. Hopefully it does, but living with others in a relatively small space is not necessarily easy, and just because they seemed okay on a Facebook group that does not necessarily mean living with them will work the way you want it to. If you’d rather avoid this stress altogether (and the stress of linking up with the right number of roommates) you can always go random instead!
Don’t get discouraged
About 8-10 years ago applying to the Disney College Program was a different process. Everyone who applied received the invitation to the web-based interview, and only after failing that or having a less than stellar phone interview would you be declined an offer. Today, the program has become so much more popular and the application process has become much more selective as a result.
If you get NLICed (no longer in consideration) from the get-go, or if your application gets stuck in “submission,” do not give up. There are plenty of alumni who were accepted after their second, third, or fourth times applying, and while unfortunate this is simply a reality when so many students are applying for the same available positions. On the same note, remember that everyone’s application process moves along at a different pace and only Disney knows the why and how of all this. If you see others on Facebook who applied the same day as you moving along while you’re stuck, try not to compare your process to theirs. Everyone’s is different and the applicants who share their details online only represent a small number of the total applicants, so this will not give you an accurate answer as to what’s going on.