The Admissions Office gets “Educated”

Summer in the Annapolis Admissions Office kicked off with a new memoir being passed around, entitled “Educated” by Tara Weston. The book details her transition from a child of a survivalist family living in the wilds of Idaho, opposed to formal education, to a student at Brigham Young University, eventually earning a Ph.D from Cambridge. In it, she even mentions St. John’s! A number of the staff had insights into the value of Tara’s story, which you can read below.


Sometimes a book comes recommended by a friend or family member and you are unsure of what you are getting into when you begin the book. Educated had been recommended to me because it dealt with a young woman’s challenges to receive an education and (spoiler alert!), St. John’s College was mentioned in the book. I was intrigued to find out what roadblocks the author encountered to receive her education, and I was curious to read about how she accomplished her goal to get educated. Luckily, the recommendation to read Educated was spot-on and I, in turn, have urged others to read it.

Educated  was a fascinating book to read. I was surprised to learn that not all Homeschool programs are regulated at the city/county/state level. Ms. Westover’s perseverance to obtain her goals was inspiring and that she used education to obtain those goals was motivating to me. She took on new education challenges, struggled at times, yet succeeded with her quest to get educated.”


“Lynn had mentioned this book to me due to my passion/interest in counseling and higher education. I was definitely intrigued and enjoy getting book recommendations. It definitely didn’t hurt that it was on the National Best Seller List! I agree that the message in this book is powerful: Education is ongoing, it is never too late, and we can rise above challenges that get in the way.  My reaction to this book was also different from some of my colleague’s in that I had trouble focusing on the main character herself due to her family situation. The counselor in me read about abusive relationships and felt so many emotions including, anger and empathy. I always aim to have a holistic view of all of my students, and this book opens your eyes to the reality that we don’t always see the whole picture. I too felt that Educated was an important read and passed it on to more of our colleagues.”



“It’s not uncommon for my colleagues and I to share books – we do work at St. John’s after all. “I just finished the most amazing book this weekend!” is a common refrain around our office’s Keurig coffee maker on Monday mornings. But when four people told me about the book Educated within the course of a week, I knew I needed to check it out immediately. I had already borrowed Lynn’s copy when my good friend at Sarah Lawrence College called excitedly to tell me that Educated makes brief mention of St. John’s.

I settled in to begin Ms. Westover’s book after work on Friday. By Monday morning I found myself around that Keurig machine raving about the book I’d just finished. As someone who has spent the past 16 years working with young people through their college search processes, Educated offered me an invaluable reminder. Overcoming personal struggles, Ms. Westover seeks a better life through education. With no formal education to speak of, she enters college without the same frame of reference as her peers. As an admissions counselor, it is imperative that I respect the diverse backgrounds and unique circumstances each of our students bring with them as they begin their college searches. It is my job to be available to answer questions with no preconceived assumptions, and to assist all students as they prepare for their own educational odysseys, no matter their background. And it is a job I truly love doing.”

What would we say if we could break “Educated” down into an acrostic?

E Education-Ms. Westover proves that education is the ticket out of limiting circumstances.

D Disturbing-No one has the perfect family, but after reading about Ms. Westover’s parents and brother, the quantity of times that they let her down or abused her was quite disturbing.

U Unfamiliar-Ms. Westover was scared with trying unfamiliar or new things, but rose to the occasion even though there was apprehension with the unknown.

C Courage-Ms. Westover demonstrates time and time again that she knows deep down inside what is best for her and shows courage and determination to ensure she succeeds at her goals.

A Anger-Ms. Westover’s anger at her family and her lack of education as a child could be over-whelming, yet she uses that anger to motivate herself to obtain her goals.

T Time-it takes time to make changes to one’s life. Most changes do not come about over-night.

E Empathy-The reader feels empathy for Ms. Westover on several levels.

D Degree-Ms. Westover reached her goals! Degrees from College and University to obtain her Doctorate.


Do you have any other book recommendations that we might enjoy? Let one of us know!

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