Monday, May 2, 2016

This story originally appeared on

This story originally appeared on

The White House's announcement yesterday that Presidential First Daughter Malia Obama plans to go to college at Harvard may have come as little surprise. But her decision to defer enrolling until 2017 and take a gap year instead is likely to get lots of parents and college-bound high schoolers talking.

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Gap years have been on the rise in the U.S. in recent years, according to the American Gap Association (yes, they even have an association), but are still more common in Europe and parts of the U.K.

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Students use them to work, volunteer, travel, or simply mature a little and think about what they want to do with their lives. Many colleges, particularly "elite" ones like Malia Obama's future alma mater, encourage them. Her plans for the year haven't been announced.

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While gap years aren't for everyone, to answer one common question (and parental worry): The gap association says that, within a year of completing their gap year, "90% of students are actively enrolled in a four-year institution."

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