Is College Still Necessary? black-ish Addresses a Controversial Issue Affecting American Youth

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Like many privileged American students, 18-year-old Junior decided to take a 'gap year' after graduating high school on black-ish Season 5.

"I wasn't really feeling college right now," Junior tells his parents. His hopelessly optimistic mom Bow then responds, "It's just nerves -- it's gonna pass."

Although his parents are initially reluctant, they eventually support his decision and allow him to continue living at home with the caveat that he must return to Howard University in the fall.

Dre and Son - black-ish

This season on black-ish, Junior nearly gives his parents heart attacks during family dinner when he announces that he has decided not to attend college at all.

Instead, he wants to pursue a career in social media marketing, which, in his opinion, does not require a college degree.

Junior's decision to forgo college reflects a growing number of youths who are skeptical of higher education.

Junior and his parents - black-ish

For decades, Americans have been spoon-fed the notion that if we get good grades in school and graduate from a decent college, we'll have a shot at achieving the 'American Dream'.

However, with tuition costs rising at astronomical rates every year (the cost of attending college is increasing almost eight times faster than wages), it's no wonder students are asking themselves whether they really need college to be successful.

As of February 2010, over 44 million borrowers collectively owe $1.5 trillion in total student loan debt. 

Related: black-ish Season 5 Episode 1 Review: Gap Year

There is an enormous amount of pressure on American students to attend top tier universities, as evidenced by the recent college admittance scandal in which rich and famous parents of perspective students allegedly bribed school officials to get their children into top schools. 

Prospective Colleges - Once Upon a Time Season 7 Episode 20

Though many students have absolutely no idea what they want to do with their lives, they're sucked into paying upwards of $200,000 (the price of a home, in some states) for degrees they may never even use. 

As a society, we often unfairly look down upon people who do not attend college.

While certain professionals, like doctors, lawyers, and licensed professional engineers will likely always require a college degree, there are plenty of jobs that do not require degrees.

What Do You Suggest? - Emergence

According to the U.S. Labor Department projections, 63% of all new jobs that will be created though 2020 won't require a college a degree. 

Additionally, a shocking new study conducted by Third Way concludes that many college graduates actually come out earning less than the typical salary of a high school graduate, with an average salary of only $28,000 -- yikes!

There are also plenty of millionaires -- and more than 750 billionaires -- without college degrees.

In fact, many of America's most successful personalities have had incredibly lucrative careers without the help of a college degree, including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Steve Jobs. 

Bill Gates Attends Event

Despite all of the (arguably) good reasons not to attend college, statistics still show that people with a bachelor's degree will earn, on average, $830,000 more over their lifetime than someone with only a high school education. 

College graduates are also more likely to get married, less likely to be incarcerated, and are often more tolerant of people with differing backgrounds and views.

Some companies also offer internship programs to college students that can lead to full-time employment following graduation. 

Attending college also provides students with an abundance of social capital and networking opportunities.

As the saying goes, it's not always what you know, but who you know. Experts estimate that 70% - 80% of jobs aren't advertised publicly. 

Nick Raises his Diploma - Good Witch Season 5 Episode 10

College students have the opportunity to join fraternities, sororities and clubs, participate in job fairs, and create relationships with people, including professors and counselors, who have extensive networks.

The conversation becomes even more nuanced when we consider black students like Junior. There is a racial gap in the pay discrepancy between black college graduates and white college graduates.

Related: Why America Needs TV Shows Like mixed-Ish More Than Ever

In 2015, college-educated white men over the age of 25 made a median of $32 per hour, while similarly situated college educated black men made only $25 per hour. 

Furthermore, black households headed by a college graduate are often less wealthy than households headed by less educated white men.

Back To School - black-ish

Consequently, black students who choose not to attend college will likely have an even harder time finding success than their white counterparts. 

Whether or not high school students choose to attend college, it is evident that our school systems do not adequately prepare students for life post-graduation.

Young people are seldom given the opportunity to uncover their gifts and passions before being pressured into choosing a life-long career. 

FOB- Jessica Huang  - Fresh Off the Boat Season 6 Episode 2

They are not confronted with making decisions about what truly matters to them, or what they value. Their natural skills and talents are not cultivated. They have no idea what 'success" means to them or what type of legacy they want to leave behind. 

As a result, millions of students graduate from both high school and college each year and pursue unfulfilling careers and lives that lead to what some have coined the quarter life crisis

When they're finally ready to make a career change, they run to therapists, mentors, and life-coaches for encouragement, direction, and words of wisdom.

Therapy with Iggy

Related: Get Showtime via Prime Video Channels for Award-Winning Original Series, Hit Movies, Sports & More!

Is there value in obtaining a college degree? Absolutely. Is it for everyone? Probably not. Does college ensure that you will live a well-rounded, fulfilling life? Definitely not. 

While Junior may yet change his mind and decide to go back to school, it's important to note that his decision not to attend college was likely impacted by his ability to live in the luxury, upper-middle class home of two college graduates -- his parents. 

Junior Is Taking A Gap Year - black-ish Season 5 Episode 1

What do you think?

Should Junior go back to college, or chase his social media dreams?

Watch black-ish on ABC Tuesday's 9:30/8:30 c


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Kiara Imani is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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