Letter to Future Gateway Students

Dear Current Gateway Students,

You’re in for a ride. I didn’t know it when I first entered, so be warned that this course will see you through some of your longest nights and earliest mornings, the greatest sense of helplessness you’ve ever felt and a semester’s-worth of built up pride and triumph. I can honestly say that this course gave me some of my highest highs and some of my lowest lows, so think carefully on whether or not you think it’s all worth it.

I think it is worth it. I have to weigh the pros and cons, but the pros—in retrospect, the underdog in a lot of the fight—won out. First, the cons. It’s a lot of work. This was the most work I’ve ever had in a class; if you’re looking for a blow off class, this is not the class for you. It’s also one of the most challenging courses I’ve taken, not in terms of memorizing parts of the cell or regurgitating mathematical formulas but in terms of entering completely new writing territory. I purposefully, almost blindly took on a completely new genre of writing without any previous experience, and the learning curve definitely took my by surprise.

But now for the pros. As for the amount of work, I can’t spin that in a way that makes it any more palatable than it is. However, the challenge is all part of the process. This course is not meant to teach you about writing essays or how to create a podcast, it’s meant to guide you on your personal writing journey, wherever that takes you. You will have some of the most academic freedom you’ve ever experienced and it is through this freedom that you’ll be able to explore, create, fail, and write like you’ve never written before. All rules (well, I guess most) are thrown out the window, and your job in the class is, simply, to grow.

This is what makes the class so challenging: growing is hard. Growing is painful and frustrating and draining. You will inevitably find yourself drudging through assignments just to meet the deadline just as you will inevitably be unable to stop your fingers once you strike inspiration and the words just come to you. The whole point of growing is that you struggle and overcome, and I promise you that you will overcome. I had my doubts, despite Shelley’s utmost confidence, however it did miraculously come together.

This is what I want you to keep in mind: you will overcome. It seems like a lot of work, and it is. However, this isn’t just busywork or problem sets, this is the work that actually helps to improve your writing, however you see fit. I’m taking 6 classes this semester, and if there is anything I’ve learned it is that I am stronger than I think I am; if I can do it, there’s no reason that you can’t, too. I wish I had more faith in my own abilities, and if I could do it all again I would stress less because, in the end, everything will turn out just fine.

So please, don’t worry. It seems contra to what I said about the course load, but it will all work out fine. You will be swamped, you will feel like you’re just running in a hamster wheel, you will cry at 2 in the morning. However, you will also find inspiration, you will grow immensely as a writer, and you will triumph. Pinky promise.

Yours,

Ben Bugajski

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