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President Barack Obama’s daughter Malia recently announced that she’ll be attending Harvard – but only after taking a “gap year” between high school graduation and freshman year.
According to CNN’s Mike Rowe, she’s got the right idea.
As the host of the Travel Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” and then CNN’s “Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” Rowe has spent the past 13 years traveling the United States learning about the most difficult and strangest manual labor occupations.
He’s long been an advocate for removing elitist stigmas around blue-collar jobs.
When he looks at the country today, he sees a culture that is unnecessarily burdening its young people with tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt for an education that doesn’t prepare them for a job that exists.
It’s why in the latest episode of “The 4-Hour Workweek” author Tim Ferriss’ podcast, Rowe said the US would be better off if every high school graduate considering college take a year off before beginning freshman year.
“I think we make a horrible mistake matriculating right out of high school right into college,” Rowe told Ferriss. “I think it’s a hell of a thing to ask a 17-year-old kid to declare a major, take out money.”
He’s not advocating the type of gap year where parents pay for kids to discover themselves in a trip across China, either.
“You have to do something: call it an apprenticeship, call it an internship,” he said. “But we have to back away from the pressure that’s conspired to drive so many kids so far into debt and start to go down a road so soon.”
He recommended new graduates use this gap year to learn about the industry they’re interested in and see what jobs are available, and if they would better envision themselves in a different field.
This way, when it’s time to enroll in college, they’re not taking classes that are intellectually stimulating but won’t lead to a clear, rewarding career path that can both justify and pay off $90,000 in student loan debt.
“It’s just a terrible thing to have your coffee served to you by a double major in Poli Sci and Medieval French,” Rowe said.