I enjoy the contributions of Chuck Chalberg, including his recent commentary on the challenges of providing an "extraordinary education" to students in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system ("Hardworking students? Yes, but ...," Sept. 29).

Today, the mission statement of Normandale Community College (where Chalberg teaches) includes eight practical, no-nonsense objectives that relate primarily to preparing students for a successful transfer, or to perform in the workforce. There are no lofty, erudite goals of intellectual enlightenment, nor is there even a promise of academic excellence.

While I admire Chalberg's goals of maintaining a rigorous curriculum and reticence to "dumb down" coursework, the open-admission policy at his institution will affect the caliber of students who sit in his classroom. Like a good coach, a good teacher has to adapt to the talents of his or her players.

Ultimate success in college comes to critical thinkers capable of mastering complex learning tasks. Unless students are engaged and inspired, college can be a losing proposition. The experience should never be easy; however, as students will soon discover, the real world is even less forgiving.