Malia Obama Headed to Harvard, After a Year Off

Malia Obama will be going to Harvard in 2017. She graduates this June and will be taking a year off before college, which Harvard encourages students to do.

Harvard encourages admitted students to defer for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way. The student must not enroll in a program at another college that would grant that student a degree.

I wish that policy existed when I was graduating from high school. Or from college. I don't think it would have made much of a difference in the long run if I became a lawyer at 25 instead of 24. And having a year off to travel or volunteer would have been fun.

Malia wants to be a filmmaker. The Obamas have been good at keeping their daughters out of the limelight. I don't recall reading about either of these intern/apprenticeships she served: [More...]

Malia spent last summer in New York City interning on the set of HBO's "Girls," starring Lena Dunham. She spent the summer of 2014 in California working as a production assistant on "Extant," a now-canceled CBS sci-fi drama that starred Halle Berry.

She sounds quite accomplished and well-rounded. I'll be looking forward to reading about her achievements long after the Obamas have moved on from politics.

I wonder if Obama will join a D.C. law firm when he leaves. Most presidents leave D.C., but he wants his younger daughter Sasha to finish high school there, so the Obamas will stay in D.C. for a year or two. Harvard is expensive, and soon he'll have two children in college. He'll want a good paying job. I wonder if Michelle will go back to work?

On a lighter note, Obama recently was on Ellen DeGeneres' show, and asked if he would be the keynote speaker at her graduation. He said absolutely not, he'd be too emotional.

"I'm going to be sitting there with dark glass, sobbing," he told Ellen DeGeneres during an appearance on her talk show.

Obama really is funny. I will miss him as President. I may not have agreed with all of his policies, but I have always felt the country was in safe and secure hands with him at the helm.

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    Gap Year(s) (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by NycNate on Mon May 02, 2016 at 10:41:15 AM EST
    So good for her.  This is just another example of how the rich remain rich.  This is an example of inequality as well as the reason behind it.  

    I have often thought I attended college too early.  I didn't have the luxury to take a gap year.  I am a landlord.  I see many of my tenants that seemingly could have benefitted from a gap year as well. Maybe some young person sees this and takes a gap year working similar to what Ga6thDem mentioned.  

    I have learned a lot over the years.  One of them is that the rich are able to create a reality that few will be able to match.  Gap years to pursue your interests without financial concern is one of them.  

    This is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard (1.00 / 1) (#10)
    by CoralGables on Mon May 02, 2016 at 11:07:21 AM EST
    Taking gap years are for the wealthy? I took three gap years until I saved the money to attend college. Quit your whining. You could afford to go without a gap. You had a luxury that many don't.

    CoralGables (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by NycNate on Mon May 02, 2016 at 12:29:51 PM EST
    Far from whining.  I wish all people all had the opportunity not to have the pressure of working right after high school.  

    I joined the military right after high school.  Not because I wanted to.  But I felt I needed to help myself and my family.  

    Malia doesn't have those concerns.  And as I said, good for her.  However, the vast majority of people don't have that luxury.  That is an inequality that the government can't solve.


    I think you are arguing semantics (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by jbindc on Mon May 02, 2016 at 12:55:10 PM EST
    No, I've never heard of a poor or middle class kid taking a "gap year" - that's what rich kids do, and usyalky does denote a year in which a kid travels and explores. However, I've known plenty of people who "delayed college" or "took a year off" so they could work and make some money.  Some of them took a few classes community college that would transfer for a much cheaoer rate.

    Malia is taking a year off before starting college.  Who cares why she's doing it? Don't get hung up on what it's being called.

    Good for her and congrats on getting into Harvard.


    Speaking of Community College, (none / 0) (#15)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 02, 2016 at 01:04:16 PM EST
    I've always wondered why more people don't advocate Community College as a gateway towards a BA or BS? Freshman and Sophomore Curricula are, virtually, identical whether you go to Ulster County Community, or, Princeton. Even if you go to the most expensive Ivy League schools you don't get to see a full professor until your Junior, usually, Senior year.

    i understand that (none / 0) (#24)
    by linea on Mon May 02, 2016 at 07:35:27 PM EST
    a lot of universities don't accept many ComCol credits as equivelant. they may accept intro english or intro sociology but not the geology or similar class.

    Because community colleges are public schools, most 100+-level classes offered there are directly transferable to four-year public institutions in the same state. And in some states such as Hawaii, the community colleges are actually an integral and administrative part of the public university system.

    For example, the entry-level World History courses required of all college freshmen enrolled in the University of Hawaii system (HIST 151-152) have the exact same curriculum whether they're offered at Kapiolani Community College or at the University of Hawaii's flagship campus in Manoa.

    That said, tuition at Kapiolani is about 20% that of UH itself, and those history classes at Kapiolani are capped at only 25 students per section, as opposed to the 300-plus students you'll see enrolled per lecture section at Manoa.

    So personally, given its cheaper tuition and generally smaller class sizes, I think spending the first two years at a community college is probably a better deal for many students, particularly for those who have to take out loans to finance their education. But it's best that a prospective student talk first to a counselor, before determining what might be the best route to take.



    I lost (none / 0) (#41)
    by TrevorBolder on Tue May 03, 2016 at 07:37:46 PM EST
    9 credits , which i had to make up, But still saved so much money in the long run

    Community College (none / 0) (#40)
    by TrevorBolder on Tue May 03, 2016 at 07:36:33 PM EST
    A great tool.
    Which I used, combined with working while in college, and multiple scholarships , managed to graduate with any college debt.
    My parents had no money for my college . But I cannot imagine graduating college with the debt these kids have.

    Which is why the lament that college students have too much debt falls on somewhat unsympathetic ears for me.

    Did any of these students with huge debt, even consider community college?

    And lets not even get into the majors that they chose.


    I had that debate... (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by kdog on Wed May 04, 2016 at 09:37:53 AM EST
    with some of my friends down at the OWS encampment in lower Manhattan...I told one guy "yeah man you got sold a bill of goods and all, but why on earth did you think it was a good idea to go 50 grand in debt for an unmarketable philosophy degree, when you can learn about philosophy for free at the public library! The system is fubar, but that decision is on you Bro"

    My nephew just got his bachelors from Queens College in 5 years, paid his own way working full time while going to school full time.  All his parents did was let him skate on room and board and he still lives at home.  And he's on the waiting list for the plumbers union as a back-up plan. That boy smart!


    I don't know when you graduated (none / 0) (#48)
    by CST on Wed May 04, 2016 at 10:35:20 AM EST
    But I do know that college, even the two years of college that you'd need after community college for a bachelor's degree, has gotten astronomically more expensive - even from when I graduated 10 years ago, when it was already astronomically too expensive.  You can't imagine it, because it wouldn't have been possible for you even if you tried.

    And that's just as true for science degrees as it is for philosophy degrees.


    You are missing the point (1.00 / 1) (#13)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon May 02, 2016 at 12:47:14 PM EST

    A gap is not at all a necessary indicator of privilege.  As CG said and you ignored.  It can just as easily be exactly the opposite.  I'm sure it isn't in her case but that is not the point you missed.

    And for the record your outrage concerning the Obamas is rather famously selective.  And everyone here knows that.


    A child of a (none / 0) (#12)
    by KeysDan on Mon May 02, 2016 at 12:33:20 PM EST
    president of the USA is probably not a good coordinate from which to extrapolate.  Gap years are useful for many for different and individualized purposes.

      From an educational point of view, some may benefit from the maturation process of travel or being in the workforce.  Often those students who are unsuccessful in their freshman year, involuntarily take a gap year, returning in the subsequent year, better prepared and motivated.

     Many need a gap year, or just called laying out for a semester or two, to make enough money to proceed. A friend of mine, whose family was not one of means, took his gap year between graduation from Harvard and entrance to Harvard Law. Tried to ease the financial burden during his next three years of professional study.  Worked on an auto assembly line to help support himself.


    Gap years are the norm in Great Britain. (none / 0) (#16)
    by caseyOR on Mon May 02, 2016 at 01:40:54 PM EST
    Nearly everyone going on to university in GB takes a gap year regardless of economic status.

    Harvard encourages all its students to take a gap year. I wish more universities and colleges in the U.S. did that.


    I agree (none / 0) (#17)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon May 02, 2016 at 02:36:26 PM EST
    If I am ever asked I always advise taking a break.

    I'm in Gap Year.... (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by kdog on Tue May 03, 2016 at 11:02:10 AM EST
    # 18...highly recommend!

    It's not like they ask for student ID's at the keggers...the best of college, without the college;)


    Ha (none / 0) (#31)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue May 03, 2016 at 11:05:28 AM EST
    Mind the gap!

    Though if I could do it all over again... (none / 0) (#34)
    by kdog on Tue May 03, 2016 at 11:40:55 AM EST
    the real ticket is to sell herb in a college town after high school.  Party for free and get all the girls or boys, depending on how you roll.

    Though the opportunity for that secondary work-study program is closing rapidly.


    Wonder if she really (none / 0) (#1)
    by CaptHowdy on Sun May 01, 2016 at 03:19:14 PM EST
    Wanted to go to Burning Man and they said no.   I guess it would have been quite a story.

    The gap year, (none / 0) (#2)
    by KeysDan on Sun May 01, 2016 at 03:38:24 PM EST
    between high school and college makes sense for many young people.  And, even more so after completion of undergraduate studies andbefore entering professional or graduate school.

     For Malia Obama it permits continued and unique experience living in the White House and observing some of the workings of government.  And, provide time to adjust to the family's relocation in D.C.

      A great opportunity exits for Malia to work with the Clinton campaign in the fall's general election.  A great exposure, aside from her earlier teen experiences in her father's campaign.  While the Obamas may want to continue to shield her from such a searching public eye, it would benefit her, and do much for Mrs. Clinton's defeat of Trump and the threat he would bring to her father's legacy.

    I was thinking that too (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by ruffian on Sun May 01, 2016 at 07:53:59 PM EST
    It will be good for her to have an adjustment year before starting her new life. They will be able to have more normal family time next year - given that they will never be a normal family.. It would be hard to go right from the White House to college.

    I think the Obamas have been done a fantastic, truly exemplary job raising those girls in the bubble. It will be interesting to see what paths they choose.


    obama's book deal (none / 0) (#3)
    by pitachips on Sun May 01, 2016 at 06:01:04 PM EST
    Will easily be north of $20M. I'm guessing they'll be able to cover tuition and then some lol. Malia might not even have to get a part time job!

    I was on a full-ride scholarship at UW, ... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun May 01, 2016 at 08:16:42 PM EST
    ... so taking a year off wasn't really an option. I did, however, take two consecutive quarters off due to chicken pox and attendant complications, and I didn't start graduate school until age 26.

    I think kids should be allowed to pursue college on their own calendar. Not everybody is ready right out of high school, and going to a university is a big change. The daughter of a cousin graduated early from high school at age 17, and was really too young to go away to school. So, two years at Pasadena City College while still living at home provided a good transition for her into UC Santa Barbara, which has a student body of about 25,000.


    I'm happy for her (none / 0) (#6)
    by Suisser1 on Mon May 02, 2016 at 12:07:29 AM EST
    but with my own heading off to college next year, maybe ready, maybe not, I'm a bit grungy... maybe a gap year would benefit my kid but even while solidly middle and intellectual class we don't have the connections to make her gap year worthwhile so on to college she will go. I respect the Obama's decision but I know how profoundly privileged they are and how unique Malia's situation is.

    You can (none / 0) (#7)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon May 02, 2016 at 07:08:14 AM EST
    do a "gap year" IMO differently. It really doesn't have to be doing the same kinds of things Malia is doing. It could simply be waiting tables and learning how the real world operates.

    Yeah, (none / 0) (#8)
    by Suisser1 on Mon May 02, 2016 at 08:14:00 AM EST
    I'm just being a whiner about it. Anyway, mine wouldn't even discuss a gap year - so ready or not, here she comes. I was clueless after HS and worked retail and waitressed for two years before landing on a CUNY campus, but that was eons ago

    GAP year -- I could have used one... (none / 0) (#18)
    by Cashmere on Mon May 02, 2016 at 04:10:40 PM EST
    I went to a state University at 17 after graduating high school.  I was really out of my element there and homesick.  It resulted in quitting until I was in my 30s, when I went back to school and studied both biology and engineering.  I am STILL paying off student loans...  Oh well.  at least I have a great job now and we were able to send both of our boys to state universities and they both graduated in 4 years and are gainfully employed, one an engineer in Portland and the other just finished his masters in Los Alamos.  We are so very fortunate...

    I had at similar experience (none / 0) (#19)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon May 02, 2016 at 04:36:28 PM EST
    For different reasons but the bottom line is I was not ready.   My life would have been a lot easier if I had finished a degree.

    Cashmere... (none / 0) (#20)
    by fishcamp on Mon May 02, 2016 at 05:14:19 PM EST
    Which high school did you attend in portland?  I went to Jefferson...

    Hi -- I am actually a graduate of (none / 0) (#21)
    by Cashmere on Mon May 02, 2016 at 05:25:37 PM EST
    Sam Barlow HS ---  In the Gresham school district.    Have lived in Portland for over 30 years now.  We live in NE Portland now, the Kerns neighborhood (between NE Glisan and Burnside).  Laurelhurst Park is just a few blocks away.   For college, I studied at OSU initially, then later, MHCC, and finally PSU.  

    I grew up in Boring :) (none / 0) (#22)
    by Cashmere on Mon May 02, 2016 at 05:27:25 PM EST
    Yes, for those who don't know, there is a lovely small town in Oregon called Boring.  It was named after a family, although some would argue life can be boring there...  If it is boring, it is beautiful as well.  

    I actually knew a family from Boring (none / 0) (#23)
    by CoralGables on Mon May 02, 2016 at 05:40:09 PM EST
    Most of them sadly no longer around.

    Wonder if I ever met or knew them.... (none / 0) (#32)
    by Cashmere on Tue May 03, 2016 at 11:12:32 AM EST
    I would ask their name but that may not be appropriate here.  It is truly a pretty place.

    Mount Hood towering over the town (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by caseyOR on Tue May 03, 2016 at 11:19:25 AM EST
    of Boring is a wondrous sight.

    I remember when that area from Gresham east nearly to Hood was berry farms. Lots and lots of U-Pick places for raspberries and marion berries and strawberries. There is no sweeter tastier strawberry than the Hood strawberry which is found only in Oregon.

    I used to drive out by Boring to a farmer who had a large kitchen garden and would run out and pick sweet corn for anybody who stopped by to purchase some. I'd pay for my corn then dash home to plunge that fresh fresh corn in boiling water. This was in the days before framers' markets.


    CaseyOr -- Mt. Hood from Bluff Rd near Sandy. (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Cashmere on Wed May 04, 2016 at 08:11:58 AM EST

    It is from my facebook page.  One of my favorite spots on earth.


    When I was at UW, ... (none / 0) (#37)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue May 03, 2016 at 03:24:31 PM EST
    ... I spent a lot of time on Vashon Island with a college buddy whose family was from there, and we used to pick wild blackberries, which were everywhere in late summer and early fall. The only downside to it were the vine's thorns. My friend's grandfather called those vines "Mother Nature's barbed wire."

    If there's one thing I really miss about living in the Pacific Northwest, it's berry picking. Most all berries growing wild in the Seattle area are edible, and once you've acquired a taste for fresh-picked berries, the store-bought varieties simply don't measure up. One of my favorites are salmonberries. When I lived in Burien, one of the best places to find wild salmonberries was Des Moines Creek County Park just south of Sea-Tac Int'l Airport.



    I went to Sam Barlow HS (think I mentioned above) (none / 0) (#38)
    by Cashmere on Tue May 03, 2016 at 03:30:30 PM EST
    My grandfather was a farmer and had strawberry fields.  My mom grew up on this farm and, although to this day she adores the berries, she hated having to pick those berries as a child (she was born in 1939 to give you a time frame).  When I was a child, every summer I would pick berries at the Strebin and Lyski farms in the Gresham area to make money.  Most of us kids did.  These were raspberry farms and not u-pick.  Although there has been much development and many of the farms are gone, the area is still beautiful, especially between Gresham and Sandy where there are nurseries (tree farms) and yes, still berry farms.  I was just there two weekends ago.  Have you seen the view of Mt. Hood from Bluff Rd?

    I grow (none / 0) (#42)
    by TrevorBolder on Tue May 03, 2016 at 07:47:36 PM EST
    Raspberries and Blackberries along my fence line.

    Bought 2 blackberry plants 4 years ago and have had wonderful harvests.
    Have had the raspberries for 3 years, last year they just took off.
    Nice to go out in the backyard and pop a berry in your mouth.


    Yes -- Love the berries (none / 0) (#44)
    by Cashmere on Wed May 04, 2016 at 08:05:37 AM EST
    We just sold our house last summer in Portland where we had raspberries in the backyard.  It took about 3 years for ours to take off too but they were wonderful for years following:



    Nice berries (none / 0) (#49)
    by TrevorBolder on Wed May 04, 2016 at 06:58:37 PM EST
    On cereal, or in my yogurt concoction
    (Fage yogurt, chia seeds, stevia, vanilla, raspberries, and a little half & half for the chia seeds to soak up)
    My mid morning snack at work every day,
    Or as the Hobbits called it, 2nd breakfast

    Without giving a name (none / 0) (#35)
    by CoralGables on Tue May 03, 2016 at 02:01:37 PM EST
    I can tell you the were involved in racing greyhounds at Multnomah Greyhound Park.

    The greyhound racing is no longer there. (none / 0) (#39)
    by Cashmere on Tue May 03, 2016 at 03:35:57 PM EST
    The track was in Fairview, just out of Gresham.  I was at the racing track many times.  My only connection to knowing anyone involved was through a high school friend who worked there and then relocated to a greyhound track in Florida (I know it was Dade County because I once flew to Miami with a Greyhound for them).  I feel bad about this now as I am a huge animal and dog lover.

    My father-in-law in south TX ... (none / 0) (#26)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue May 03, 2016 at 12:19:40 AM EST
    ... was an independent businessman / restaurateur who decided to go to college himself at age 48, after he shared with one of his kids' guidance counselors his regrets over never having the opportunity when he was their age, and she then asked him, "So what's stopping you now?"

    He eventually received his Ph.D in geography at age 60. Now partially retired now at age 76, he still teaches graduate seminars at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

    Better late, than never.


    That counselor (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by jbindc on Tue May 03, 2016 at 07:21:28 AM EST
    Sounds a lot like my mom.  When I was accepted to law school at the age 33,  I got scared and bemoaned that I would be 36 when I graduated in three years - too old, I thought.  My mom asked me, "How old will you be in three years if you DON'T go to law school?" Hmmm.

    Mom - for the win.


    Perfect (none / 0) (#28)
    by Steve13209 on Tue May 03, 2016 at 09:17:12 AM EST
    Many of the students at ... (none / 0) (#36)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue May 03, 2016 at 02:43:18 PM EST
    ... the William Richardson School of Law at University of Hawaii at Manoa are over 30.

    One of my favorite liberal Republicans -- actually, I think she's the last liberal Republican still holding office in the entire country -- is State Rep. Cynthia Thielen, who married young, had four kids in rapid succession, entered college at age 36 when her last child entered 6th grade, and graduated from Richardson at age 44.

    Now 75, she's a well-respected environmental law attorney, and serves on the board of the local Sierra Club chapter. I really admire those people who possess the courage to reinvent themselves at middle age.



    I really should've (none / 0) (#29)
    by CST on Tue May 03, 2016 at 10:58:01 AM EST
    Done a gap year.  I still managed to graduate on time(ish), but after 12 years of putting my nose to the grindstone in school in the hopes of getting into a good college, I was not motivated to study when I finally got there.

    If I had considered it as an option I would've done it, I just never considered it.

    And I disagree with the idea that it's only for wealthier people.  A year of working (even low-end jobs) would've served me extremely well at that time in my life.

    So far I've taken a (none / 0) (#43)
    by fishcamp on Tue May 03, 2016 at 07:52:48 PM EST
    56 year gap before going for my masters.

    For me it would be 48 years (none / 0) (#46)
    by sallywally on Wed May 04, 2016 at 09:14:36 AM EST
    But I graduated from high school and went to college at 17. I truly was not ready for college and dropped out. No one approved my gap year so I went back and graduated as a local. Thought about grad school 25 years later and took the GREs with high scores but by then didn't want to read what I'd have to in school. I had my own reading list.