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Articles / Admissions / Should I Report Year in Family Business on College Applications?

May 21, 2020

Should I Report Year in Family Business on College Applications?

Question: I took a year off before starting college and spent the bulk of it working with my parents at our business. The problem is that I was paid under the table so there is no proof of me actually working there. Should I report my time working at my parents' business to college admissions offices when applying?

Yes, of course, you should report your work for your parents since it seems to have taken up a big chunk of your gap year. Colleges are not going to be looking for proof of earnings. (The IRS wants documentation but, thankfully, admission offices don't. :) )


Because the employment sections of most applications allow no room to elaborate, you might want to write your primary essay about this experience or, alternatively, explain it in the "Additional Information" section or in a separate, unsolicited letter or essay.

Admission folks will be interested in what you did and what you learned during your time off from school but not in how much you made.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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