When the news broke that First Daughter Malia Obama would be going to Harvard, the reports also mentioned her taking a "gap year" after she graduates high school.  A gap year is a break between the end of 12th grade and the start of Freshman year in college.  Originally popular in the U.K., now Americans are seeing the benefits of that one-year hiatus.

It's a time for students to mature; to gain some life and/or work experience; travel.  Many sign up to do charitable work in education or environmental fields.

At their best, gap years can help students gain perspective so they are better prepared for the rigors of college.  But I wonder, is it difficult to return to school after having a year of relative freedom?  Do good study habits fade away while one is traveling the world?

From everything I hear and read about gap years, I think they sound great!  Students enter college feeling ready for the academic "grind" because they feel they got to "live a little" in the real world.  They took a time-out to recover from academic burn-out that often strikes in Senior year of high school.

If you'd like to know more about gap years, here's a website with information for parents and students:  http://www.americangap.org/planning.php

Do you know anyone who took a gap year?  What would you tell you children if they said they wanted to take one?