Jump to content

Should I apply to PhD programs for a third & final try before I'm super old?


Recommended Posts

So, I applied for my first round of PhD programs straight out of my BA. I had no idea what I was doing and thus, no surprise, was rejected at all the places I applied. I did, however, apply last minute at the suggestion of a professor to some MA programs. One was in Anthropology & Education at Teacher's College in NYC, and the other was in Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies at Hebrew University (the Middle East had been the regional focus of all my archaeological studies up to that point). I got into both of those programs, and after weighing pros and cons of both,  I ended up going with the Hebrew U program. Finished that and graduated in 2016 with a strong GPA as well as an archaeological internship at W.F. Albright Institute for Archaeological Research in Jerusalem under my belt. The only detail about my MA program that is particularly relevant is that it was not a thesis writing program, so we took classes and then wrote a couple of 25 page seminar papers as part of the curriculum.

I applied again to PhD programs that fall, and was rejected all over again. I had high GRE scores, put a ton of work into researching potential advisors and speaking to them beforehand, and wrote what I believed to be solid statements. It was very disheartening, but after talking to some people about what could have gone wrong, some suggested that I needed more experience in the Anthropology field, and recommended doing an MA in that, and anything I could do to get more experience there. 

So, I obtained a job in a Cultural Resource Management firm where I have been writing archaeological resource management reports for the last 2 years. I am also about to go to Jordan to complete my fieldwork for my 2nd MA in Anthropology. I should be graduated by the latest, fall 2019. I've also been a graduate assistant for the last 3 semesters. Although I don't have teaching experience because my department doesn't have grad students teaching, I have gotten a ton of experience grading essays. 

I'm 30 years old and a female. Currently single, but I'm just trying to picture the next 10 years, and if starting a PhD program at 31 might be a little ridiculous of an aspiration. I want to have kids. Would that be a sacrifice I would likely need to make? Is starting a PhD program at my age a reasonable thing to set out to do? 

I like working at my company very much, and I believe my boss has plans to make me Principal Investigator when I get my Master's here soon. But I just don't know if a desk job for the rest of my life is my dream. I love to travel and I don't get to do much of that at this desk. I also wouldn't mind picking up and moving to somewhere new, as I would likely have to with a PhD acceptance.  

Any input or advice from those with experience, I would greatly appreciate. I need to decide soon whether preparing for another cycle of this makes sense, and if what I have done since my last round of rejections has been significant enough to increase my probability of being admitted. 

Thanks all!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I started my PhD program at 30 with 2 kids under 5. Two years later, I now have 3 kids, ages 6, 4, and 2. You're not too old, and wanting kids shouldn't prevent it either. That being said, after working for many years as a PM in CRM, I can tell you that a CRM job is far less a desk job than academia. So, if what you do not want is a desk job, CRM may be the better option. 

Edited by sierra918
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for your reply and sharing your experience. I definitely realize that a ton of desk work comes with academia and it’s not deskwork that I hate. I just like that academic research allows for travel to actually conduct the research itself, whereas the most travel I get to do for CRM in writing reports is going a few counties over to do site visits or record searches. I also saw myself one day teaching or at the very least attempting to go that route, and it seems that’s kind of hard to do with only an MA these days. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I am older than you and I am finishing my bachelors degrees, I’m getting two, after a long time away from school working in film. I have a 3 year old and am a single mom by choice and I’m applying to PhD programs. I don’t think you’re ever too old, but especially not at 31. I have friends who have gotten married and had kids while in doctorate programs. I think you’ll be fine if it’s what you want. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I'm in a similar boat, now waiting on app news for Fall 2019. I'm also 30 (married no kids), working at an international development/research organization in a city I like, but started feeling the itch to pursue PhD level research after my experiences in the field managing/implementing development programs. If I get into a program I'll be 31, but my gut tells me my experiences in the field and conducting ethnographic research will put me at an advantage to younger, less experienced students, as will my professional contacts. I do not hope to be a professor, so these contacts are important for employment later on.

I also worked in CRM before getting my masters in the U.S. southwest region (based in CA). I was an archaeologist (mostly survey/monitoring work and report writing) and found it to be highly enjoyable but knew that it wasn't enough for me as a career. I also wasn't trained in archaeology beyond a two month field school I attended one summer.

It seems to me that most young PhD students I know have a skewed view of the world because of a lack of experience. (Also entirely possible that I have a skewed view of PhD students...).

In any case, I think age may work to your advantage (I hope mine as well!).



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use