How Far The Duggars Got In School

Reality stars Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar are very open about their religious beliefs, conservative values, and their love affair with Tater Tot casserole, but the famous parents of 19 Kids & Counting have been less transparent about a little thing called education. Although Michelle has talked about homeschooling frequently on the show, the topics of high school and college haven't been heavily discussed on air. But don't assume the Duggars don't prioritize higher education because Michelle and Jim Bob are actually big proponents of lifetime learning — but on their own terms. 

Their older kids, for instance, can take college courses though an online program called College Plus! Other siblings within their brood have been encouraged to pursue real estate licenses, and you might be surprised to learn that the spouses of some of the Duggar adults are pursuing master's degrees. Talk about impressive stuff! Pull up a seat, and let's chat about how far this reality TV cohort got in school.

Homeschooling 101

There are conflicting reports regarding the quality of Michelle Duggar's homeschooling program. "Of course, our goal has been to do a Christian-based curriculum — one in which there's a lot of character emphasis, character building like responsibility, honesty, self control," Michelle wrote in a 2010 blog post for TLC. "All those kind of things are woven into the stuff that we use. I find that there are so many things out there that you could look forever and probably not exhaust the opportunities for what you want to do." To get more specific, Michelle utilizes a program called ACE (Accelerated Christian Education). 

The older Duggar siblings help the little kids out with school occasionally, a phenomenon that 19 Kids & Counting touched on in a few episodes. Michelle prefers that the younger kids' lessons feature frequent breaks. "Their attention span is limited, and they'll do a 15-minute chunk of time here and then go back later and do another 15-minute chunk of time," she said. (If only we could all do that at work and school, right?)

Michelle is a stickler about these rules

Don't let Michelle Duggar's soft voice and those aforementioned study breaks fool you, folks, because this mom of 19 is strict about her kids' education requirements. Case in point: Michelle ensures that all of her young children participate in standardized testing at the end of each school year. "Each year we give standardized tests in May to all the kids that are in third grade through ninth grade," she wrote in a blog for TLC. She also makes a point to treat the kids after they're done testing, adding: "For us, it's really fun because we go over to the testing facility, the kids take their tests and then we'll celebrate with ice cream after they finish. That's a big milestone every year."

As for the older kids? Michelle encourages them to obtain their GED, even though it's not a requirement in their home state of Arkansas. "I like them to do it because it's good for them to have that certificate," she blogged. "That's their equivalent of finishing their high school education. Some of them will finish it at 16 years old, but everyone is different." 

So where did this blueprint originate? Is Michelle drawing from personal experience? We're glad you asked...

Jim Bob & Michelle weren't homeschooled

Both Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar attended high schools in Arkansas. Jim Bob attended Shiloh Christian School, an institution founded in 1976. "Shiloh Christian School believes that Christian education is the process of teaching and learning conducted by born-again Christian teachers in an environment where God and His Word are the highest authority," according to the school's website. After graduation, Jim Bob earned his real estate license

As for Michelle's teen years, 19 Kids & Counting viewers got to enjoy an episode about her 30th high school reunion. "I think my mom was pretty crazy in high school," daughter Joy-Anna said (via Christian Today). "But I think she's calmed down quite a bit." Joy-Anna's take is a fair one considering Michelle was a cheerleader back in the day. Gasp! That likely meant she wore much shorter skirts than Michelle condones for her kids today. After graduation, became a cheerleader for her family, opting to pursue the stay-at-home mom route and, of course, the crazy life of a reality television matriarch.

Giving it the old college try

When it comes to college, the Duggars prefer something called CollegePlus!, a program that's popular with homeschoolers. Although the name sounds a little wonky (Is the exclamation point really necessary?), it's a legitimate college program that involves online courses, according to HomeLife Academy. Duggar twins Jana and John-David both participated in the CollegePlus! Life-Purpose program, which all aspiring college grads must complete. "With an emphasis on the importance of guidance from God, parents, and mentors, the program helps students determine how to use their gifts and talents to actualize their life goals," The Duggar Family Blog states. Jana was supposedly interested in a Bachelor of Science in nursing, but John-David wasn't sold on one specific career path.

As for the other siblings? In April 2011, Jill was taking a "combination of online courses and on-site classes at a local university for nursing, Jessa was on her way to earning a Business degree, and Jinger was pursuing a BA in music," according to the family's blog

Jill followed her passion

It's no secret Jill Duggar was passionate about nursing and midwifery as a young girl, topics she brought up frequently on 19 Kids & Counting and its spin-off Counting On. Jill obtained her CPM (Certified Professional Midwife) license in September 2015, less than one year after she welcomed her son, Israel, into the world. Way to multi-task, girl! Jill's husband, Derick Dillard, gushed about her accomplishments in a post shared to the family's blog (via Us Weekly). "I am so proud of her for her diligence, perseverance, and hard work to see this long road through to its end and reaching her goal of becoming a CPM."

It's important to note that a CPM is different than a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). It can take "at least eight years to get this certification: four years for a Bachelor's degree, one year of nursing experience, and three years in a nurse-midwifery program," according to InTouch Weekly.

Joseph forged his own path

Joseph Duggar attended Crown Bible College in Knoxville, Tenn. for one year. As the name suggests, it's a biblical-based school that prides itself in continuing "the heritage of the servants of the Lord," according to its website. Parents Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar bragged about Joe's educational pursuits in a January 2015 Facebook post: "He loves teaching and discipling young men, encouraging them to make wise choices in their lives. God is going to use Joseph in a mighty way to share His love and Bible principles to today's world! We are very pleased with his choices so far. We love you, son."

A year later, Joseph was back at home in Arkansas "working with the Duggar family business doing construction," read a January 2016 post on Facebook. "He now plans to acquire his real estate license and his CDL license." Hey, at least the guy gave college life a shot. The campus scene isn't for everyone, and that's A-okay. 

Jessa's husband graduated from community college

Jessa Duggar's husband, Ben Seewald, became a college grad in May 2015. Seewald studied political science at National Park College, an institution that offers "two year degrees and certificates both on campus and online," according to its website. Jessa is especially proud of Seewald's accomplishments, giving him a shout-out on Instagram when he graduated: "Congrats to my man ... So proud of you!" she wrote. To top it all off, Jessa shared a video of Seewald receiving his diploma. Proud wife alert!

Seewald also expressed an interest in pursuing seminary school post-college, so it's clear he takes his studies and professional life seriously. "He is mature and always has been," Ben's dad, Michael Seewald, told People. "We have tried to treat him like an adult growing up. He did kid things, but with adulthood in view. He has had that his whole life."

Jill's husband is off to law school

Jill Duggar's husband is a proud alumni of Oklahoma State University, where he received his BSBA in accounting and economics. Dillard was also a member of Beta Alpha Psi, Kappa Kappa Psi, and the National Eagle Scout Association. After putting his degree to use as a tax accountant for Walmart, Dillard entered the University of Arkansas' law school program in fall 2018. The couple discussed the endeavor on its family blog: "We look forward to seeing how God will continue to direct our family in this new chapter of life!"

As for how Jill's handling this new chapter? She has apparently attended one of her husband's law school classes. "Glad my favorite study buddy @jillmdillard was able to come to class yesterday!" he wrote on Instagram. "You've gotta find alone time (no kids) whenever you can!"

John-David's wife is very accomplished

John-David Duggar's wife, Abbie Burnett, obtained her nursing degree before getting hitched in November 2018. Abbie is a Licensed Practical Nurse, according to The Ashley's Reality Roundup, having completed an approved licensing program in Oklahoma. To date, it's not clear if she intends to transfer her nursing license now that she's living in Arkansas with John-David, but what is obvious? Many fans want her to stay on the nursing track. 

"If she's passionate about nursing, I hope she will be 'allowed' to have her career," one person wrote on Reddit. "Hopefully she will be able to find something similar!" another follower said. No matter what path Abbie chooses, her future seems bright.

Lauren pursued high school and college at the same time

Josiah Duggar's wife, Lauren Swanson, attended the Georgia Military College when she was just 16 years old. Wild, right? "It was a program for students that weren't finished with their high school — it was called dual enrollment," Lauren told TLC's cameras in a clip for Counting On. "And we were able to take high school and college classes at the same time. So, in two years were graduated high school and I got an associates degree." Lauren pursued nursing (we're noticing a trend here), explaining: "I really enjoy helping people, I always thought I'd be a nurse. So, my dad always encouraged us just to get options out there."

Despite Lauren's early ambitions, she later shifted gears, candidly explaining why in the aforementioned clip. "I do not plan on continuing my degree," she said. "I just don't actually enjoy school, and I don't see myself becoming a nurse now." 

Jinger's husband pursued higher ed and a higher caller

Jinger Duggar's husband, Jeremy Vuolo, is a self-proclaimed bookworm who attended Hartwick College and Syracuse University before getting married. He was a goal keeper for Syracuse's soccer team, and he later went on to play the sport professionally. But Vuolo's memories of public school and college aren't all positive. "I had been homeschooled most of my life but began attending public school in my junior and senior year and it was during my senior year that a lot of sin in my heart began to be exposed," he wrote on his personal blog. That "sin" Vuolo referred to in his post probably had something to do with his arrest in 2008 for harassment against a police officer, according to court docs obtained by Radar Online.

Vuolo bounced back from his personal slump in May 2018, when he decided to continue his studies at Master's Seminary School. In an Instagram post, he said he was "so grateful to the Lord" and to church leaders "for giving me the incredible opportunity to begin theological and pastoral studies." Way to go, Jeremy!