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First-Year Experience

Summer Common Reading Program

"Educated" by Tara Westover

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.  

Purpose of the Summer Common Reading Program

The IC summer common reading program is designed to introduce new students to the intellectual life of Illinois College. The goals of the program are to stimulate discussion and critical thinking surrounding topics of contemporary relevance, to enhance the connection between students, faculty and staff, and to provide a common experience.

The Assignment

All first-year students are expected to complete the common reading over the summer. As they read, students will also complete a note-taking assignment to be turned in the first day of their seminar class. This will prepare them to begin writing their first essay under the guidance of their seminar professor during the first weeks of classes. Details of the program will be introduced to students and their family members during the READY, Set, Go! registration days.

Summer Reading: More About That Lecture Series  

Illinois College will host a series of discussions to explore topics introduced in "Educated." All lectures to be held in Sibert Theatre in McGaw Fine Arts Center and have Convo Credit. Topics and dates are:

  • Traumatic Brain Injury | Tuesday, September 10, 7 p.m. | Jeremy Turner (Psychology)
  • Homeopathy | Monday, September 23, 11 a.m. | Laura Corey (Biology)
  • Education | Monday, October 7, 11 a.m. | Jaime KleinBridget English, Eric McClarey (Education)
  • Mormonism | Sunday, October 20, 7 p.m. | Adam Porter (Religion) and Bryan Leonard (Marketing and Communication)
  • Bipolar Disorder | Monday, November 4, 11 a.m.| Caitlin Vasquez-O’Brien (Psychology)
  • The First Generation College Experience | Thursday, November 14, 7 p.m. | Panel of faculty and staff

Community Connection - Read with us!

Nearly 150 continuing students, staff and faculty have "opted in" to the summer reading program and will read the book over the summer. They have also pledged to come to lead and participate in events related to the book.