A new school year kicks off this week full of promise, with students in Missoula heading to their classes under clear, smoke-free skies — so far.

But like the weather, the future can be hard to predict.

A recent Missoulian series that closely examines the higher education landscape in Montana provides a timely atlas. Over the course of a full week, these stories mapped out the many inter-connected roads that lead to college, pointing out common roadblocks and detours, but most encouragingly, highlighting promising paths to success.

These include effective efforts to provide more than just academic services to students who face a variety of challenges in pursuing higher education. Some of these students may be coming from rural

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