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Advice for First-Generation College Students: Dr. Natasha Savage

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Augusta University is celebrating National First-Generation College students from November 2-6. We had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Natasha Savage.

Dr. Savage has been on faculty at Augusta University since July of 2012 and serves as the medical director of hematology and residency program director of pathology. She received her MD from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University in 2007.

She is a first-generation student as well. When it was time for her to graduate high school, she remembers the process of applying to college to be daunting. “I have always been someone that plans far in advance, but I didn’t know what to plan for. I did not know when college applications were due or what was needed for the applications to be strong. Guidance counselors were a great resource.”

The internet was not as accessible and advanced as it is today, and she recalls relying on other people for information during the application process. “I spent a lot of time with guidance counselors for information. Still, many of my classmates at UGA did more volunteer work and took more AP classes than I did and seemed better prepared. I didn’t really know what was needed to have a strong application. Knowing if the amount of college classes I was signed up for was feasible or if I was on the right track to graduate in four years, were questions that I did not have the answers to. As UGA is really big, I didn’t have instant access to an advisor despite their significant efforts to help us navigate the University.”

Dr. Savage was raised by a single father who was a postal worker without a college education. She now has three children of her own, including two high school students. “First-generation students are at a significant disadvantage. Just living it myself there are many discrepancies. I frequently compare my experience to my sons’. It is drastically different.”

Some tips Dr. Savage recommends to high schoolers looking to go to college include, “start thinking about where and what you want to study in college during your freshman year of high school. It is never too early to start planning. If you do a little bit by bit by planning early, it is more manageable. Look into what classes you would have to take during your college career to obtain your desired degree. This information is readily available on college websites now. Start taking AP classes to work towards your degree. Also, don’t be embarrassed to ask questions. People are in academia because they want to help. You are not “bugging” them. Lastly, once you are in college, it is important to get involved and find people that you click with. College can be overwhelming especially for people who went to smaller high schools. Find your people early on including a mentor to help you navigate this new experience.”

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