As Postponing College Becomes Slightly More Common, Malia Obama Opts for Gap Year

President Barack Obama’s daughter, Malia Obama, will attend Harvard University in 2017 — but not before taking what’s called a “gap year.” The first family’s announcement comes at a time when elite private schools are encouraging students to postpone the start of college.

Malia Obama announced over the weekend that she’ll take a year off before attending Harvard in 2017. (Associated Press)

Malia Obama may be taking off for a year to escape “first daughter” status when she starts Harvard, but it’s becoming increasingly common for students to do a gap year. Scott Jaschik, editor of Inside Higher Ed, says it’s a fine idea for would-be college kids – if they can afford it.

“It’s great for Malia – if your father’s the President of the United States. But I worry about the hype over gap years because gap years cost money that most students don’t have,” Jaschik said.

Fewer than 2 percent of undergraduates in the U.S. postpone their studies, though some schools – like Tufts University, Princeton University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – are encouraging it, and even helping to pay for gap years.

The Obamas have not yet disclosed how Malia Obama is planning to spend her gap year.

Earlier: Mind The Gap (Year): A Break Before College Might Do Some Good

[Cross-posted at On Campus: the WGBH News Higher Education Blog]

Kirk Carapezza

Kirk Carapezza is the lead reporter for On Campus. Kirk has reported for Wisconsin Public Radio in Madison, Wis., and Vermont Public Radio in Montpelier, Vt. He's been a writer and producer at WBUR in Boston; a teacher and coach at Nativity Preparatory School in New Bedford, Mass.; a Fenway Park tour guide; and a tourist abroad.

Kirk received his B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and earned his M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. When he's not reporting or editing stories on campus, you can find him posting K's on the Wall at Fenway.