By Jeremy Ross

(CBS) — Everyone’s talking about Malia Obama’s decision take a year off before going to Harvard.

More and more students, including some here in Chicago are choosing the same path. CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross reports on how to know if a gap year is the right move.

While his friends are hitting the books, Colin Richards has chosen to hit the water.

“Near the lake, definitely not bad,” Richards said. “Even on the rainy days.”

He spends his time at working on boat and dock maintenance. He’s mixed in helping out an internet business and his job at Wilmette Harbor as part of his gap year. It’s an effort to pad his resume and his finances before attending the University of Vermont.

“None of the schools that I really wanted to go to gave me that scholarship that I needed so I decided that there’s no better way to make money than take a year off, not spend money and work for the year,” said Richards.

Gretchen Stauder, a counselor at New Trier High School, says that she has, “Never had a student come back and say it’s a bad decision.”

Stauder helps with the annual “Chicago Gap Year Fair,” billed as the largest in the country. About 900 including Richards attended to listen to the benefits, negatives and misconceptions.

“People say you won’t want to go back to school after a year, that’s far from the truth,” Richards said. “I can’t wait to get back to the classroom and start learning again.”

Northwestern University has noticed an increase of gap year students, but says those students make up only about two percent of their incoming freshman class. They say knowing someone is applying with the possibly of taking a year off has no impact on whether or not they’re accepted.