Malia Obama
President Obama and his daughter Malia walk from Marine One to board Air Force One to depart Chicago's O'Hare Airport in early April 2016.Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

President Obama's older daughter, Malia, has decided to go to Harvard University — but won't start until after a gap year. American gap years aren't as common as they are in the UK, but are becoming more popular.

Some 80 to 110 undergraduates accepted to the prestigious university typically take a gap year before starting. Harvard encourages students to do so.

It isn't clear what Malia, 17, intends to do with her year. She'll be the latest in a long line of presidential children to attend the Ivy League school. Both her parents attended law school at Harvard.

"The President and Mrs. Obama announced today that their daughter Malia will attend Harvard University in the fall of 2017 as a member of the Class of 2021. Malia will take a gap year before beginning school," the White House said in a statement.

Harvard accepted just 5.2% of applicants this year, making the admissions rate the most selective in its nearly four-century history, notes the New York Times. Malia is a senior at the prestigious Sidwell Friends School in Washington DC which usually sends a few students to Harvard each year.

The president and his family had remained tight-lipped about Malia's university search and which schools had offered a slot to the First Daughter. Malia has always had her heart set on attending university, despite overtures from a devoted Kenyan lawyer who admired her from afar.

Nairobi attorney Felix Kiprono, 24, who had never met Malia, in 2015 offered 50 cows, 70 sheep and 30 goats in return for Malia's hand in marriage — but it was not to be.

President Obama revealed at the annual Correspondents Dinner that his family plans to stay in Washington DC for at least two more years to allow younger daughter, Sasha, to finish high school, also at Sidwell.

"Our decision has actually presented a bit of a dilemma because traditionally presidents don't stick around after they're done. And it's something that I've been brooding about a little bit," Obama joked during the traditional comedy routine at the dinner.