ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Recently, it was announced that President Obama's oldest daughter, Malia, would be taking a gap year before beginning classes at Harvard University in 2017.
A gap year is the time a student takes to explore new opportunities.
Usually, students will take that time to find out the track they want to take once they begin taking classes. They may also pursue other opportunities that were not available to them in high school, like traveling to be immersed in other cultures.
"It's totally different than a person who's going to snap on a back pack and start heading into the wonders of Australia to see what the outback looks like," associate provost of enrollment management for Albany State University Dr. Paul Bryant says.
According to Dr. Bryant, within the last 30 years, the number of students taking a gap year has increased. In fact, a number of schools consider a gap year as part of the college experience.
"Harvard has a structured way in which they allow students to take a gap year," Dr. Bryant adds.
He believes that the Obamas have an effective plan set for their daughter.
"[Malia] knows what she is going to do. They have a plan for her and her family feels comfortable knowing that it's not something unstructured," Dr. Bryant says.
He also adds that a number of schools have done studies on the gap year which showed some students do better in college after completing a gap year, but they need to have a plan.
Also, students should inform the colleges about their decision to take a gap year. Some schools require a deferral letter in order to keep the student's acceptance valid.