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figuringitout80

Am I too old for graduate school?

72 posts in this topic

I'm 34 and will be applying this coming year, by which time I will be 35. However, I am only completing my undergraduate degree now. Like many other "older" posters, I know that I'm in a far better position, personally and academically/intellectually, to go to graduate school now than I would have been ten years ago. At this late stage, I know exactly what I want to do and my "maturity" has paid off big time in my undergrad work as well. All of my advisors/mentors assure me that early-mid 30s is not too late to go to graduate school and pursue an academic career. I have found that my UG professors appreciate having older students that are focused and determined and I would imagine it would be a similar situation in graduate programs, especially considering the higher level of maturity needed to be successful there in relation to undergraduate programs.

I get the sense that achievement trumps pretty much everything else. If you come out of graduate school in your late-30s or, even, early-40s, your chances of getting a tenure track job will still be tied to your publication record. Unlike a previous poster, I do have a family-two young boys, 3 and 2, so it will be more of a challenge for me than for a 25-year old with no familial responsibility, but I imagine that, in the end, it will come down to who wants it the most and is willing to do whatever is necessary to make it happen.

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Reading through this thread has been helpful.

I'm 32 going on 33 and have had a string of uninspiring, unfulfilling intellectually-stultifying jobs since graduating from University so long ago. I have been bored to tears with every job I've ever had, except for the time I worked for the public library. Also, I don't enjoy living where I live for a lot of reasons, but one of the big ones is the fact that the hiring pool is overstocked with graduates from the town's behemoth state school. No one leaves. Essentially a bachelor's degree will get you a $10.00 an hour clerical job regardless of how much experience you have or how old you are. If you're not willing to take it, someone else will.

I'm looking at master's programs, in particular Masters of Information (aka what old fuddies like myself still think of as Library School). Hope to enroll no later than 2011. I'll be 34 by then. Here's hoping that's not too old.

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I am 21 and I feel old!

Good luck getting sympathy for that. (:

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Good luck getting sympathy for that. (:

Yeah. LOL

I throw my Commodore 64 at you and your youth, Seadub. :D

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I'm 27 (going to turn 28 in March) and I'm applying to grad school! My husband is 30 and is in his first year of his doctorate. There actually quite a bit of us old folks in PhD programs ;)

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you are never too old to go back to school !! ... I am around the same age as you (27) and really never thought I needed to go back to school after my undergrad until I start working in the "real world" and realized that crap, I need a higher degree to do what I really want to do. Also, my sister who is 33 is also in school getting her MBA so i don't think you can ever be too old to learn. I think as far as your work history, you can definitely explain that in your personal statement. I did that as well, i explained how being older and having more work experience motivate me more than if I had directly applied to graduate school right out of college. and I do truly believe that I had time to mature and learn the motivation/determination needed to succeed in graduate school.

Edited by kobe36

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Perhaps the greatest drawback to being "old" is the risk that you won't be able to mesh well with your younger peers in the same program. If you are married, have kids, 30+, etc. and starting law school with a bunch of single 22-year-olds, chances are good that you will have a hard time finding a whole lot in common with the majority of your classmates over the next three years of your life. And considering how important the social aspect of law school is, that may be a problem. Business school is a little different because the average age of an MBA student is late 20s, so you can expect the "average maturity" of your classmates to be much higher even if you are still older than most of your peers.

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Perhaps the greatest drawback to being "old" is the risk that you won't be able to mesh well with your younger peers in the same program. If you are married, have kids, 30+, etc. and starting law school with a bunch of single 22-year-olds, chances are good that you will have a hard time finding a whole lot in common with the majority of your classmates over the next three years of your life. And considering how important the social aspect of law school is, that may be a problem. Business school is a little different because the average age of an MBA student is late 20s, so you can expect the "average maturity" of your classmates to be much higher even if you are still older than most of your peers.

This is one of the reasons why I didnt consider schools like Columbia.

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Perhaps the greatest drawback to being "old" is the risk that you won't be able to mesh well with your younger peers in the same program. If you are married, have kids, 30+, etc. and starting law school with a bunch of single 22-year-olds, chances are good that you will have a hard time finding a whole lot in common with the majority of your classmates over the next three years of your life. And considering how important the social aspect of law school is, that may be a problem. Business school is a little different because the average age of an MBA student is late 20s, so you can expect the "average maturity" of your classmates to be much higher even if you are still older than most of your peers.

As an exceptionally immature 28 year-old (well, I have discipline and time management skills, but I enjoy pre-printing random haikus and then sticking the paper back in the printer tray), I've never really been concerned about fitting in. Plus, graduate school is a self-selection of sorts.. the only people who make it through the filter are VERY serious about their jobs.

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Absolutely not too old.

I'm almost 38 and finally applying to grad school. It took me nearly 9 years to figure out that what I really love is English lit, and that no job in the world makes me as happy as studying, researching, writing, and teaching what I love.

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I had my first interview last weekend. and even though I was about ten years older than most applicants, I didn't find it to be an issue. I even stayed with a first year grad student who had come straight from undergrad and we got along well.

I did ask the dept head of admissions if he thought my age would be a factor and he assured me it would not (unless of course I made it one!)

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Perhaps the greatest drawback to being "old" is the risk that you won't be able to mesh well with your younger peers in the same program. If you are married, have kids, 30+, etc. and starting law school with a bunch of single 22-year-olds, chances are good that you will have a hard time finding a whole lot in common with the majority of your classmates over the next three years of your life. And considering how important the social aspect of law school is, that may be a problem. Business school is a little different because the average age of an MBA student is late 20s, so you can expect the "average maturity" of your classmates to be much higher even if you are still older than most of your peers.

Yeah, this is a problem for us right now being in grad school already (my husband). It kind of stinks. Everybody is so much younger than us. We're lonely.

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lol, coffeandtoast, at my program the average age if probably 29 so, being younger than that, I'm the one that has a hard time fitting in.

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This is reassuring. I'm turning 36 this week (eek!), but I feel like this is exactly the right time in my life to go back to school.

Me too! Turning 36 shortly, that is...and I'm applying to get my second masters degree that may put me $100,000 in debt if I get into into my "dream" schools. Completely lacking sense? Of course! Working to fulfill goals? Yes. Screw it...I'll do that no matter what it costs. It's only money after all. I've been living in a tiny one roomed place in northern Thailand for the past three years where I've been volunteering and making a "local wage" to survive. I have never been happier. I don't mind dying with debt.

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Okay, my two cents. I went back to grad school when I was 35. And not only am I leaving with two masters degrees (Magna Cum Laude), now at age 39 I am applying for my PhD. I am much more successful now as a grad student than I ever was in my 20s. A good part of it is that I now am less easily distracted and make much wiser decisions. Sure, I have more obligations than my younger peers, but I am able to out-compete them because I can do more with less. :lol:

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No you're not at all old to start your program.You're just the right age actually.Age is more of a crucial factor in programs of education.For instance if you apply to any School of Education most of the times the school is keen on knowing about your work experience and yes sometimes if you are older it works.Teachers who want to pursue research must have abundant work experience before applying...

Edited by aditi123

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Okay, my two cents. I went back to grad school when I was 35. And not only am I leaving with two masters degrees (Magna Cum Laude), now at age 39 I am applying for my PhD. I am much more successful now as a grad student than I ever was in my 20s. A good part of it is that I now am less easily distracted and make much wiser decisions. Sure, I have more obligations than my younger peers, but I am able to out-compete them because I can do more with less. :lol:

I agree - I'm almost 38 and applying to grad school for the first time. I'm SO much more focused and mature now than when I graduated (and I was an older undergrad student as well) and I'm actually super-ready for the rigors of a PhD (even scored MUCH higher on general GRE this time around than right after UG).

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If I get rejected from the last school on my list and have to reapply next year, I will be entering a PhD program at 28 as well. I read somewhere that the average age of a graduate student in the US is 32, so you are right on track. Best of luck.

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