Westover, T. (2018). Educated: A memoir. London: Windmill Books

Review by Diana Rowe, Georgia Gwinnett College, [email protected]

Tara Westover had no formal public or homeschool education. Born in to a deeply religious Mormon survivalist family, Tara was encouraged by an older brother that getting an education would be a path for her to leave the mountain. Westover was able to gain admission to Brigham Young University (BYU) at age sixteen by studying on her own for the ACT exam.Tara Westover’s accomplishments did not come without struggle, anguish, or turmoil on her journey to success. Westover does a great job of chronicling her life living on a mountain in Idaho with no formal education, to becoming a distinguished scholar. To say the least, Tara was able to find her own voice in the midst of a chaotic and dysfunctional survivalist family. This book illustrates how obtaining an education can drastically change the trajectory of a person’s life.

 Educated covers many applicable topics that both new and veteran advisors could benefit from when advising First Generation students specifically. For example, Imposter Syndrome, a psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being a fraud (Dalla-Camina, 2018). The book outlines Tara’s internal struggle with imposter syndrome and her “belonging” in college--academia. Advisors serving as mentors and coaches and can help students find clarity in the importance of obtaining a degree. Through her upbringing and lack of knowledge from the “outside” world, Tara had a fixed mindset. Tara wrestled with her anti-establishment/anarchical upbringing and wanting liberation to learn and grow. “My love of music, and my desire to study it, had been compatible with my idea of what a woman is. My love of history and politics and world affairs was not” (Westover, 2018). First Generation students sometimes have a fixed mindset as it relates to their talents and abilities. When dealing with First Generation students that may not have adequate support at home, advisors can teach and instill a growth mindset to our advisees. Other issues Tara faced were self-efficacy and having a hard time navigating the realm of college. Advisors can incorporate appreciative advising techniques to help students close the gap of self-efficacy and again follow a growth mindset.

Adhering to all three frameworks (conceptual, informational, and relational) are essential when advising First Generation students (NACADA, 2019). Relaying and understanding information on policies, and procedures, are important, along with rapport and relationship building with students. Support from the Bishop at BYU, a few close friends, and the faculty played an integral role in Tara’s success. The support and guidance they provided to Tara were invaluable. Such support was evident in chapter 27 of the book when Dr. Kerry, a faculty mentor to Tara at BYU, stated, “First find out what you are capable of, and then decide who you are” (Westover, 2018). This was a turning point for Tara. Tara later applied for an opportunity to study abroad with Trinity College at Cambridge in the U.K. This was a highlight in her educational journey. Anyone reading this book could deduce being “educated” goes beyond knowledge attainment; rather, it is the evolution of a person on their journey to success. Advisors influence students on many levels. This book highlights how the core value of empowerment is important, particularly with first generation students (NACADA, 2019). Advisors reading this book would see how their roles as coaches, mentors, advocates, teachers, etcetera, can affect lives in the process of helping our students to become educated. In conclusion, Educated is an excellent read. It is a good length for those that are busy and can only read a few pages daily. There are plethora of themes that advisors can benefit from. A masterfully written book that you feel personally connected to the story and the protagonist.  This book would be a great common read for campuses.


Westover, T. (2018). Educated: A memoir. London: Windmill Books

Dalla-Camina, M. (n.d.). The Reality of Imposter Syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/real-women/201809/the-reality-imposter-syndrome

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA academic advising core competencies model. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreCompetencies.aspx

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA core values of academic advising. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreValues.aspx

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