We have so many questions about the Duggars, whose life seems so foreign from our own — and not just because they're reality stars of 19 Kids and Counting and Counting On fame. They follow strict rules, they have courtships instead of romances, and they subscribe to a controversial home-schooling curriculum. But did any of the Duggars go to college?
The answer, as far as we can tell, is no — not in the traditional sense, at least. In a blog post on the TLC website, Michelle Duggar revealed the kids take courses through a program called CollegePlus. "The great thing about it is it's a distance learning program, for the most part, and then you have a coach who will come alongside you and assist you in studying and preparing for your courses," she said. "Taking the courses online works with your schedule so that you're still able to work or pursue other experiences while studying. Also, the cost is minimal compared to the brick-and-mortar universities, and as a large family with a debt-free policy we've been really pleased with that."
(That last point, at least, makes sense — considering the rising costs of higher education. The average cost of a public four-year in-state college is $9,410 per year, according to The College Board, while private four-year colleges cost an average of $32,410 per year. Therefore, it would cost Michelle and husband Jim Bob more than $750,000 to put all their 20 kids through four years of in-state public colleges and more than $2.59 million to put 'em all through four years of private colleges.)
"A few of our kids are taking courses right now, and I think some of them will go for their degrees in whichever areas they decide, and then I think some of them may not really go for the full degree — but they're getting knowledge and information for skills that they want to gain," Michelle added in the blog post. "All my kids are different, and it will be interesting as time goes on to see which direction each one will take."
However, a Quora user offered another explanation for why Duggars avoid traditional college: "They question [higher education's] usefulness in making a living, and they view the cultural capital imparted by a good college education as pernicious, as it permits students to be exposed to views very alien to what they were brought up with. This could lead in turn to [an] examination of their beliefs and [them] no longer toeing the party line."
Maybe both explanations are valid. Maybe Jim Bob and Michelle want to save money and keep their kids fundamentalist. Two birds, one stone, right?