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Applying to PhD after graduation?


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Graduating senior in engineering that will be working in industry R&D after graduation. For complicated job-related reasons, I decided not to apply to grad school last year, but I'm planning on applying this fall. Which brings me to my question: does a year off look that bad on top schools? I like research, but to be completely honest I'm not sure I would devote 5 years to it unless it meant I get get into either CalTech, Princeton, Stanford, or MIT (I know this sounds shitty but realistically I think it's the wisest move) when I have other career options available.

My stats are pretty good (I think): 

3.95 GPA from a top engineering school for UG

2.5 yrs of research with a 1st authorship in a high impact journal (my greatest kicker, I think)

1 Summer sophomore year in a research fellowship (Amgen, REU, etc. - will likely have a coauthorship by the time I apply too)

Various leadership positions in ECs

Should have good LoR too

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