“Rick Dalton’s Rural America’s Pathways to College and Career is an excellent resource for educators, administrators, researchers, and legislators who want to understand the challenges facing students from rural communities. Postsecondary education in the U.S. was not designed with rural and small town students in mind which explains many of the reasons why these populations are less likely to enroll in and complete postsecondary education (in comparison to their peers). Mr. Dalton’s book is based on 30 years of experience helping rural students and families explore and understand college and career options after high school. 

The book is full of firsthand experiences from Mr. Dalton and others who have worked in the college access field for many years. The book is structured to guide readers through the myriad challenges presented to rural students on their journeys to college. Mr. Dalton takes time to address academic issues (e.g., lack of Advanced Placement course, teacher shortages, few tutoring options) and non-academic issues (e.g., family obligations, poverty, full- and part-time work) that often do not face urban and suburban students. In each instance, Mr. Dalton shared action-oriented recommendations based on the College for Every Students (CFES) Brilliant Pathways model of student support. While many texts presented problems without solutions, Rural America’s Pathways provides solutions and optimism about the work that needs to be done. 

Most importantly, the book takes an asset-based approach to rural student success. Mr. Dalton identifies the many barriers to postsecondary enrollment and completion without attributing any shortcomings to the students (or families). Instead, he demonstrates the unique strengths of rural communities and the resilience they show despite stark differences in resources. Practitioners and researchers will learn how to empower rural communities to better support students on their college pathway. 

I have worked in higher education for 15 years, with the last several focused primarily on rural student access and success. Mr. Dalton’s book is among the best written on this subject. Anyone working in the rural college student access space should have a copy of this text on their bookshelf. ” 


Matt Newlin, Ed.D.
January 5, 2022