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May 02, 2016

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

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 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

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