Instead of taking classes at Harvard this fall, Malia Obama is taking a "gap year."
The first daughter is one of at least 30,000 high school seniors who are choosing to take a year off before beginning their freshman year in college. It is also part of a trend that educators are encouraging, the better to help would-be students gain experience and maturity.
A "gap year" is defined as a break taken between high school and college that might include travel, work, research or volunteering before continuing academic studies.
"I think a gap year, when it's done well, frames the rest of your life." Ethan Knight, executive director of the American Gap Association (AGA) told CNBC's On The Money in an interview.
According to the AGA, a non-profit that accredits gap year programs, between 30,000 and 40,000 students are taking time off for a semester or more. The group says that figure is up 23 percent year-over- year.
"Functionally, what they're doing over the course of a gap year is typically an amalgam of a variety of different things," Knight said. There might be some work, "but there is also a variety of volunteer opportunities, some internships and a little bit of adventure," he added.