Harvard-Bound Malia Obama Is Ready to Fly the Nest – but Michelle Insists 'She's Still a Baby'

"We don't think they're ready, but they certainly think they're ready," President Barack Obama tells PEOPLE about daughters Malia and Sasha leaving home

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama say daughters Malia and Sasha Obama are ready to take on the world when the first family vacates the White House next month — but the cautious parents aren’t quite sure they’re prepared to let their baby girls go.

“They’re ready to get out, just out from their parents’ house,” POTUS says in a joint interview for this week’s PEOPLE cover story. “The fact that their parents’ house is the White House may add to it. But Malia’s going off to college. She’s a grown woman.”

Malia Obama
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Malia, 18, graduated from Washington, D.C.’s private Sidwell Friends School in June. She’s taking a gap year, and will attend Harvard in the fall.

Sasha is 15 and a sophomore at Sidwell. The Obamas will live in an 8,200-square-foot rental home in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, D.C., at least until Sasha graduates.


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While the president has accepted that his eldest daughter is closely approaching the end of her teen years, the first lady isn’t quite prepared for her first child to be an adult.

“She’s still a baby,” she asserts.

President <a href="https://people.com/tag/barack-obama/" data-inlink="true">Barack Obama</a>, First Lady <a href="https://people.com/tag/michelle-obama/" data-inlink="true">Michelle Obama</a>, and daughters Malia and Sasha
From left: Malia, Barack, Michelle and Sasha Obama at the White House. Pete Souza/The White House via Getty

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Still, the couple admit the girls won’t part easily from their eight-year home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“There’s a sentimentality about this place, that they’ve had so many amazing experiences, and the staff are part of the family,” says the president. “It is different for them than for most kids in that when they leave, they won’t be able to come back home. Malia’s spoken about how she regrets the fact that she won’t have that home base in the same way.”

He adds, “They’re ready to get out of the nest. We don’t think they’re ready, but they certainly think they’re ready.”

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