Malia Obama will attend Harvard, but take gap year first.

Malia Obama Will Take Year Off Before Heading to Harvard in 2017

Malia Obama Will Take Year Off Before Heading to Harvard in 2017

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May 1 2016 12:22 PM

Malia Obama Will Take Year Off Before Heading to Harvard in 2017

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Malia Obama makes her way to a vehicle upon arrival at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on April 7.

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The mystery is over. After lots of speculation of where the most coveted high school senior would go to college, the White House announced on Sunday that Malia Obama will be attending Harvard University. But the 17-year-old will first take a gap year, meaning she will start attending Harvard in the fall of 2017 and will be a member of the Class of 2021. Both her parents are alumni of Harvard Law School.

Although it was unexpected, the gap year appears to be a clear way to make sure the Obamas will be able to experience the last few months of living at the White House together without having to worry about shipping the oldest daughter off to school. The White House gave no hints about what Malia would be doing in her year off, but the Obama daughters have been traveling with their parents more and more over the past few months, as their father’s presidency comes to an end.

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Malia Obama was 10 when Barack Obama became president and is now a senior at elite private school Sidwell Friends. Younger sister Sasha, 14, is finishing up her freshman year at the same school.

Harvard says on its website that it “encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way.” Around 80 to 110 students decide to take a gap year before beginning their undergraduate studies at Harvard.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.