"Time just goes so fast,'' she said. "But like so many experiences in the last 10 years, we wanted to make it feel as normal as possible, given our family’s circumstances.
"It was of course a little emotional to drop Sasha off at college. It’s an adjustment to see each other for a weekend here, a holiday break there, but the moments we do spend together feel extra special because of it."
Obama declined to reveal to People what college Sasha is attending, but The Detroit News reported in August that she was spotted moving into a dorm and attending classes at the University of Michigan. A spokesman for the school would not confirm to the newspaper whether she was officially enrolled at the university.
Sasha's older sister, Malia, 21, is in her third year at Harvard University, where her parents both graduated from law school. Her parents had a similarly emotional experience when they first dropped her off at college in 2017.
"For those of us who have daughters, it just happens fast,'' Barack Obama said at a 2017 event for the Beau Biden Foundation. "I dropped off Malia at college, and I was saying to Joe and Jill (Biden) that it was a little bit like open-heart surgery."
The Obamas see college as an important step in their daughters becoming more independent and carving out their own identities. They helped Sasha move into her dorm and then left her to find her own way at school.
"We were there, just like most parents, helping her unpack and make her dorm room feel like home,” Michelle Obama told People. "But by and large, we let her take care of herself. As a parent, one of the most important things we can give our children is the freedom to find their own way in the world."
Plus the whole family still gets together when they have a chance. The Obamas shared a rare family photograph on Thanksgiving last week to wish everyone a happy holiday.
While they miss being together regularly with Malia and Sasha, the Obamas are also proud to see them excelling during an important time in their daughters' lives.
"The most gratifying part of it all has been watching the girls enter into their next phase of independence,” Michelle said. "Our role as parents is to raise self-sufficient, thoughtful, and compassionate individuals, and in order for them to fully embrace their own journeys, we have to be willing to let them go, so that they can grow on their own. That’s the only way they can become more."