Malia Obama goes college hunting: Following in her father’s footsteps?

On Friday, the Michelle and Malia Obama were spotted touring universities in New York. Will Malia go to Columbia University, like her dad?

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Barack Obama, right, with his daughter Malia Obama, waves as they arrive at the White House in Washington, Jan. 4, 2015, from a family vacation in Hawaii.

Last summer, news outlets took notice when Malia Obama toured Stanford and the University of California-Berkeley. Now, heads are turning once again after Malia and her mom, Michelle Obama, were spotted on private tours with multiple universities in New York City on Friday.

With such well-known people touring campus, it was no surprise that many students shared their excitement on social media. From tweets to blog posts, many shared their enthusiasm with the prospect of having Malia as a classmate.

Courtney Craig, a 21-year-old music and anthropology major at Barnard College, said that the First Lady “dined with other adults I did not recognize, and her daughter, Malia, sat at a separate table nearby with a group of her friends. There were about 10 Secret Service agents sitting inside the restaurant, and about seven big black SUVs outside.” She also said that when the first lady stood up to leave, “everyone stood up and clapped for her,” reported The Grio.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the president has said that Malia wants to be a filmmaker. Last summer, she toured two northern California rivals with film programs, Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley.

But now they have taken their college hunt to the Big Apple. Malia and Michelle toured New York University, Barnard College, and Columbia University, her father’s alma mater.

Will Malia feel pressured to follow her dad’s footsteps?

Malia faces a unique situation as she begins her college search. While other "First Kids" have gone to college while their dad’s have been in office—Chelsea Clinton and the Bush twins, Barbara and Jenna – Malia has been in the public eye since she was 10 years old. This may put her decision under the microscope, but could also be to her advantage.

"Given the educational attainment of her parents, which is exceptional in itself, I can only assume she is going to be a bright and well-qualified student," said David Hawkins, an official at the National Association for College Admission Counseling, reported the Chicago Tribune. "When you add to that who she is, all of that makes her a desirable candidate for pretty much any college."

Besides her qualifications, there are other elements that will need to be taken into consideration. Her safety will be taken into account, and even her pre-college visits can be delicate, so as not to be viewed as an endorsement, political or otherwise.

Malia will graduate from the elite Sidwell Friends School in Washington in 2016, putting her in college right around the end of her father’s presidential term. President Obama has already alluded to her departure for college, and at a commencement address at Worcester Technical High School last year:

“Part of the reason I’m here is because I’ve got to practice, because Malia is graduating in two years. So I’m trying to get used to not choking up and crying and embarrassing her.”

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.