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Am I too old for graduate school?


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71 replies to this topic

#41 catilina

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 08:37 PM

I think I'm older than everyone in the "am I too old" post. I'm in my early forties.

Clearly no one is ever too old to get a graduate degree just for personal fulfillment, which is what I was initially planning to do.

However, once I started really looking into it, talking to people in academia, etc. I was assured time and time again that my age would not prevent me from having a real academic career. So now I've decided to try for that. It seems to be much less of an issue for people that I would have predicted.
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#42 LifeIsGood

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 09:06 PM

In a meeting with a potential advisor, I raised this question, and he said that it's not a problem. Most of his students are above 30 and his oldest student is in his 60s.
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#43 LateAntique

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 09:34 PM

I'm 25 now and will almost be 26 when I finish my BA in the Spring. I've had a few hiccups along the way. I have a few friends who are currently doing Ph.Ds after having gone through law school and having successful careers. I'm also not too worried about my graduate studies translating into a vocation, so those kinds of questions don't really go through my head.
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#44 Lantern

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 09:01 PM

Definitely not too old! I'm 33 and applying to Master's Programs for next fall. (I don't have a family, so I can't comment on that.) I always knew I wanted to go back to school, but if I had tried to go back before now it would not have been the right time. I had to go out, try LOTS of different jobs, travel, volunteer, and figure out what I really wanted to do. So what if that took me 11 years? Now I am ready and committed! I was shocked when I told friends of mine that I wanted to go to grad school and they labeled me a "non-traditional" student! It had never occurred to me that my age might set me apart because it just feels so right to me now! Good luck!
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#45 rogue

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 07:49 PM

I think I'm older than everyone in the "am I too old" post. I'm in my early forties.

Clearly no one is ever too old to get a graduate degree just for personal fulfillment, which is what I was initially planning to do.

However, once I started really looking into it, talking to people in academia, etc. I was assured time and time again that my age would not prevent me from having a real academic career. So now I've decided to try for that. It seems to be much less of an issue for people that I would have predicted.



In a meeting with a potential advisor, I raised this question, and he said that it's not a problem. Most of his students are above 30 and his oldest student is in his 60s.


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.
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#46 LifeIsGood

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 07:55 PM

In a meeting with a potential advisor, I raised this question, and he said that it's not a problem. Most of his students are above 30 and his oldest student is in his 60s.



When I posted this, I was 38. As of today, I'm 39. Posted Image
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#47 Lauren the Librarian

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 08:52 PM

I'm 30 and will be starting my masters program in a couple weeks. I hope to get a dual masters with a couple of "extras" thrown in there and I probably won't finish for 4 years. I plan on getting a PhD, which I wont start until I am 38 or 39. Tacking on another 4 years will put me with a PhD at 43. I've already had the kids I'm gonna have, so that's not a concern for me. I do think women especially need to think carefully about when or if they plan to have a family. While men sometimes help out, it's a human universal that women take care of the children, so plan accordingly.

Another example of an older graduate student is my best friend's dad. He went back to school to get his PhD in Economics when he was in his 40s. He's now a very prominent economist publishing national and local governement forecasts. He gets interviewed on TV and has a number of articles in national magazines and newspapers.
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#48 Deleted

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 09:54 PM

I will be 25 if everything goes smoothly and I get an acceptance, with an MSc and a year of work experience. I think it's about right but there is definitely no age to embark on a PhD, unless you are here to block me out in which case you should refrain.
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#49 APHI224

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 01:46 AM

So does this mean that younger people such as myself that are straight out of undergrad don't have a chance?
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#50 socialcomm

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 05:26 AM

So does this mean that younger people such as myself that are straight out of undergrad don't have a chance?


No, I think everyone brings something unique to the table.
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#51 natsteel

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Posted 07 January 2010 - 03:14 PM

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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***All statements above pertaining to the application process are specific to the field of History and my own experience.


#52 SoyLaBonBon

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 12:35 AM

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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#53 seadub

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 10:16 PM

I am 21 and I feel old!
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#54 socialpsych

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 12:55 AM

I am 21 and I feel old!


Good luck getting sympathy for that. (:
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#55 peppermint.beatnik

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 01:36 AM

Person at my MA school got a TT at 39.

Edited by peppermint.beatnik, 23 January 2010 - 01:36 AM.

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#56 coyabean

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 08:16 PM

Good luck getting sympathy for that. (:


Yeah. LOL

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

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 04:21 AM

NEVER too late to learn or to make a significant impact.......
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#58 coffeeandtoast

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 04:03 PM

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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#59 coffeeandtoast

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 04:04 PM

I am 21 and I feel old!


This explains a lot, my friend! :D
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#60 kobe36

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 12:04 AM

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, 02 February 2010 - 12:06 AM.

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