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Hello

Thought I would start this thread to see if I could bring together any older applicants. I see a lot of people applying while still in undergrad, or a few years out. I'm 35 with a MSc. in History from University of Edinburgh. Applying exclusively to schools in Massachusetts/Rhode Island. How are the older applicants dealing with the wait? And how are you managing the transition to Grad school in addition to work, families, spouses, etc?

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Last week, on my 51st birthday, I was accepted into a PhD program for School Psychology. I am beyond happy. I had a 20 year, very successful career before returning to finish my BA 2 1/2 years ago. My

Hello Thought I would start this thread to see if I could bring together any older applicants. I see a lot of people applying while still in undergrad, or a few years out. I'm 35 with a MSc. in H

So throughout this process, I had so many doubts. I was afraid schools would view my 10+ years of working/ studying completely unrelated things as a lack of dedication or focus. Not just the fact that

*waves* hi there! I'm in my early thirties, and got my master's in art history in 2013. I've found juggling application prep with working full time to be fairly challenging - coming home exhausted at the end of the day only to work three more hours on an application doc is about the last thing I wanted to do this cycle. I'm finding that once I get back into a groove of researching and writing about my real passions it's totally worth it, and my brain remembers how to push through long hours like I did in my graduate program. And hey, it's good practice for being back in school, right? :-)

Its harder to make time to spend with my husband on week nights (he's a copywriter and sometimes has a wonky schedule) but I think the key is trying to be as flexible as possible, and DEFINITELY learning to let go of guilt sometimes when you're not doing something "productive" and feel like you should be.

LOL, I think the wait is stressful no matter your age. I try to throw myself into work, do some reading/make a list of materials I need to get through to strengthen my knowledge base, and set aside time for something low-pressure and creative (I've taken up art journaling).

How about you? How are you feeling about the process and dealing with the anxiety?

Edited by MaytheSchwartzBeWithYou
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It's so nice to realize there are others in the same boat!

I am 30+ and applying to engineering PhD programs. I finished my MSc while working full-time (which took forever). I also got two young kids so I have my hands full. I met with some students in potential groups I'd like to work with and I felt like their mom (They are closer in age to my 5 year old then they are to me!)

The waiting is killing me...I'm an international student so any acceptance will bring with it numerous problems such as visas, relocating, finding educational programs for the kids, work for my husband (Gahhh....I should stop thinking about it....so stressful). On the other hand my kids keep me busy and when I'm with them my brain can't focus on the uncertainty.

I completed my application process (GRE, TOEFL, papers) while on maternity leave, writing well into the wee hours of the night. It was a huge effort for me, as I was barely getting any sleep as it is. I couldn't have done it without the support of my husband, though I do feel like I'm starting to drive him crazy with my "what if" questions ;)

Hang in there...the wait will be over soon.

 

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6 hours ago, nixipixi said:

It's so nice to realize there are others in the same boat!

I am 30+ and applying to engineering PhD programs. I finished my MSc while working full-time (which took forever). I also got two young kids so I have my hands full. I met with some students in potential groups I'd like to work with and I felt like their mom (They are closer in age to my 5 year old then they are to me!)

The waiting is killing me...I'm an international student so any acceptance will bring with it numerous problems such as visas, relocating, finding educational programs for the kids, work for my husband (Gahhh....I should stop thinking about it....so stressful). On the other hand my kids keep me busy and when I'm with them my brain can't focus on the uncertainty.

I completed my application process (GRE, TOEFL, papers) while on maternity leave, writing well into the wee hours of the night. It was a huge effort for me, as I was barely getting any sleep as it is. I couldn't have done it without the support of my husband, though I do feel like I'm starting to drive him crazy with my "what if" questions ;)

Hang in there...the wait will be over soon.

 

OMG that's so funny what you said about feeling like the "Mom" in the group. I keep thinking that I might end up in that boat with whatever cohort I end up in haha. I have also been stressing about the fact that my age and the obvious eons I have been out of school will reflect badly on me. I don't want the graduate committee to look at my application and think I'm not serious about this because I've spent the last 10 years of my life working in a completely unrelated field.

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1 hour ago, SarahBethSortino said:

I have also been stressing about the fact that my age and the obvious eons I have been out of school will reflect badly on me

I'm 50+ currently finishing a master's in info science, and applying to the PhD program in the same.

About 95% of the other students in the master's program are about the same age as my oldest 2 kids (26 year old twins), the other 5% are in the 45-60 range. The PhD program I am applying to is pretty evenly split between late 20's early 30's and the 45+ group, so it is a bit different from what you are experiencing - they are expecting older students in this case, as the master's is a prereq for application

 

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I'm 30+ and just got my first acceptance letter to a PhD program... I am beside myself nervous, excited, elated, grateful, scared witless. I've met a few of the faculty, as well as a few of the graduate students. I got to have a conversation with one of the doctoral candidates about her experience being part of this program's first cohort (it really is a brand-new program). She is also 30+, a few years my senior, I think, and she seemed very confident and calm about her place in academia and in this program. Me, on the other hand-- I am freaking out. Choosing this program will require moving far away from my partner and my family. I don't have kids, but my partner and I have talked about adopting, and this is definitely going to put a kink in our plans... Maybe an irresolvable kink? We ain't getting any younger, that's for sure... The uncertainty of the future is very daunting, and I didn't anticipate how much this decision was going to affect so many people in my life.

About the wait, itself-- I had zero expectation of getting in, anywhere. I applied to 3 programs (originally had planned to apply to 8 but Life Happened), and I very much assumed that I'd get 3 rejection letters. So it's really confusing and strange to be put in the position of having to decide whether or not to accept. My default has always been, Of course I would accept! But it feels more fraught than I ever imagined it would. Also, I haven't heard from the other two schools, and even though this acceptance letter came from my first-choice school, it'll be even weirder if I get accepted to more than one and then have to decide between them. x_x

How many folks have had to move away from spouses/partners for their program? How did they feel about you having to move? What about those of you with kids in the mix? Have any of you decided to have kids during grad school (masters or PhD)? I don't suppose anyone has had the experience of going through the adoption process while also being in school?

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1 hour ago, avflinsch said:

I'm 50+ currently finishing a master's in info science, and applying to the PhD program in the same.

About 95% of the other students in the master's program are about the same age as my oldest 2 kids (26 year old twins), the other 5% are in the 45-60 range. The PhD program I am applying to is pretty evenly split between late 20's early 30's and the 45+ group, so it is a bit different from what you are experiencing - they are expecting older students in this case, as the master's is a prereq for application

 

Yeah, none of my programs require masters degrees, so when I met with POIs before application I definitely got questioned about my "late in life" career change. Even though its not really a career change. I got sidetracked from pursuing my Phd for several reasons, but it was always my intention to continue with this career path. I did feel kind of insulted when one POI from a very good school asked me flat out if I had children and how I was going to manage that when I was in school. I found it sexist and degrading.

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Yep, I won't bore you with my life's story, but I'm a 32 y/o nontraditional student finishing up a B.A. I've been working full-time since I was 17; I finally got my life settled down enough to go back to school and finish. I'm applying to a small handful of Ph.D. programs in my field. No clue what my chances are, but I figure it's worth the time/money/anguish.

 

4 minutes ago, SarahBethSortino said:

I did feel kind of insulted when one POI from a very good school asked me flat out if I had children and how I was going to manage that when I was in school. I found it sexist and degrading.

I can absolutely understand why you find this insulting/sexist/degrading, but I genuinely don't (and I'm a raging feminist who constantly seeks out things to harp on) . These POIs/AdComms have one priority above all others: making sure the people they admit (and typically fund with large sums of money) finish the degree. I worked with a guy who told me a similar story--he was probably late thirties at the time, married, and they asked if he had kids (he did) and how he would handle that commitment. He rationally explained that he understood the time commitments, had a partner to help out with the kids, didn't believe that it would interfere with his teaching/research, and understood their hesitance. He ended up getting fully funded. I'd liken the situation to me stating that I had a 50/hr a week salaried career, and I really loved it, and there's no way I could possibly quit while going to graduate school; I wouldn't expect this to rule me out, or even negatively affect my chances, but I'd find it odd if they didn't ask about my outside commitments (when they had reason to believe those commitments might exist). Raising kids (as I'm sure you know) is more than a full-time job, and many people would argue that completing a Ph.D. program in a timely fashion is also more than a full-time job. Working two full-time jobs is going to really, seriously, severely wear on somebody over 4-6 years with minimal breaks. They're just covering their bases to make sure their prospective candidate understands what they're signing themselves up for.

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Yep, I'm mid 30s, and finished my masters ("on time") about 10 years ago.  I had some anxiety starting a PhD at this point, but the average age of phd students in my field tends to be older so that's comforting.

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Turning 43 years old this year  - never expected to be in this situation.My biggest gripe is the GRE as I did not have to take this test when I studied in other countries. Going back and studying high school maths, much of which I never learnt in the first place in the country where I grew up is in my opinion unfair and discriminatory. There are studies out there that show that the GRE is not a suitable test for older applicants who tend to score worse than younger applicants (except for a study by the ETS which claims they are same.....of course what else would they say when they are making so much money out of it).

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I am in my early 30s. So I know going back to get a  PhD will be interesting for me but many professors I spoke to said that I would be a more attractive candidate as I have life experience, have a  successful career, etc. and I have a better idea of what I want to do. But one thing is I dont look my age and I just end up blending in. I noticed this happening as I have been taking some classes at a local college after work and it leads to many interesting conversations when I tell them my background. I look forward to the experience and hope that what experience i have can be used to help them and what things they have that I dont have. they can show me. I am a big believer in reciprocity. 

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2 hours ago, ashny said:

Turning 43 years old this year  - never expected to be in this situation.My biggest gripe is the GRE as I did not have to take this test when I studied in other countries. Going back and studying high school maths, much of which I never learnt in the first place in the country where I grew up is in my opinion unfair and discriminatory. There are studies out there that show that the GRE is not a suitable test for older applicants who tend to score worse than younger applicants (except for a study by the ETS which claims they are same.....of course what else would they say when they are making so much money out of it).

Yeah the only reason I did not do my GRE earlier was because my Master program at Edinburgh did not need it, nor did they care about it. Relearning the algebra I sucked at when I was 18 does not make me a better History PhD candidate, especially because I have spent over 10 years doing things that render those skills completely irrelevant. I've been very successful in my career thusfar without having to use any of that knowledge. Directing time away from preparing for my actual research to dive into equations felt like a massive waste of time.

 

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On 1/19/2017 at 11:11 PM, SarahBethSortino said:

Hello

Thought I would start this thread to see if I could bring together any older applicants. I see a lot of people applying while still in undergrad, or a few years out. I'm 35 with a MSc. in History from University of Edinburgh. Applying exclusively to schools in Massachusetts/Rhode Island. How are the older applicants dealing with the wait? And how are you managing the transition to Grad school in addition to work, families, spouses, etc?

Well, i found out today that i had been rejected from carnegie mellon. It would have been a wonderful 3 years on my behalf, but... im making intalgio prints and drinking wine and wallowing in my pitty. I am still waiting for a few more schools. So it is not over. But, as a 32 year old, i feel, RIGHT NOW, ambivalent. I figure next season i will try again. But time is going by and i am getting older. And i still feel pretty young. But the reality of my age sets in and quickly brings me back to reality where i feel older! And this hurts! And my friends have PHDs and can carry conversations and i am just a lame person who cant even get into graduate school. So if u want to know where i am in the 5 stages of grieving... well- its obvious no? 

 

At times i feel like WHO CARES! Keep going! Keeeeep going! Keep going!  

then i ask myself? What is it all about? Do i just want a fancy degree to my name? Partly, YES! And party who cares! I want to rip myself apart, explore the deepest parts of myself with a healthy direction! I need structure in life. I need schooling. Yeaaah, i can do alll of this without a masters degree, being an artist. But it seems so much more fun in an academic setting! I seek deeper learning. Theory. Critiques which will change your entire life twice. They say if u dont cry at least once in your gradschool experience, then youre doinng it wrong! Well, i am a masochist! and i dont care! I want to be immersed into the culture full on. I want to breath and exude and walk in the stench of art. I want to live under this ART rock and come out in three years. It is this discipline.  Yes , yes , yes... i cAn do it without. But i dont want to. I want to be in school. I want the atmosphere. I want an education! Maybe given a chance to teach? Who knows? 

Are these wrong reasons? 

I am learning so much ans it has only been a week. And i have been rejected ONCE. 

Rejection hurts and feels great. (maybe knowing there is hope. Otherwise it would just HURT) 

 

its the wine.

and im being a baby.

 

good luck all

Edited by Causofit
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1 hour ago, Causofit said:

Well, i found out today that i had been rejected from carnegie mellon. It would have been a wonderful 3 years on my behalf, but... im making intalgio prints and drinking wine and wallowing in my pitty. I am still waiting for a few more schools. So it is not over. But, as a 32 year old, i feel, RIGHT NOW, ambivalent. I figure next season i will try again. But time is going by and i am getting older. And i still feel pretty young. But the reality of my age sets in and quickly brings me back to reality where i feel older! And this hurts! And my friends have PHDs and can carry conversations and i am just a lame person who cant even get into graduate school. So if u want to know where i am in the 5 stages of grieving... well- its obvious no? 

 

At times i feel like WHO CARES! Keep going! Keeeeep going! Keep going!  

then i ask myself? What is it all about? Do i just want a fancy degree to my name? Partly, YES! And party who cares! I want to rip myself apart, explore the deepest parts of myself with a healthy direction! I need structure in life. I need schooling. Yeaaah, i can do alll of this without a masters degree, being an artist. But it seems so much more fun in an academic setting! I seek deeper learning. Theory. Critiques which will change your entire life twice. They say if u dont cry at least once in your gradschool experience, then youre doinng it wrong! Well, i am a masochist! and i dont care! I want to be immersed into the culture full on. I want to breath and exude and walk in the stench of art. I want to live under this ART rock and come out in three years. It is this discipline.  Yes , yes , yes... i cAn do it without. But i dont want to. I want to be in school. I want the atmosphere. I want an education! Maybe given a chance to teach? Who knows? 

Are these wrong reasons? 

I am learning so much ans it has only been a week. And i have been rejected ONCE. 

Rejection hurts and feels great. (maybe knowing there is hope. Otherwise it would just HURT) 

 

its the wine.

and im being a baby.

 

good luck all

First of all I am so sorry you were turned down. It sucks. I'm sure I will have to deal with several rejections whenever my schools get around to posting their results.

Personally, I have traveled a very long and winding road towards graduate school, and there were many times in the process when I felt like I was too old and the whole idea was extremely impractical. But I realized last year that it was something I needed in my life and if I was ever going to move on from wanting to go to school, I had to at least try. For me, even if I get rejected from every school I apply to, I will be able to say that at least I took the chance. In 30 years, if I didn't do this, I would have always wondered what might have been, because THIS has always been the only thing I have been both good at AND enjoyed. I've had a pretty good career that is totally unrelated to History and have been what I call "reluctantly good at it." But I felt like I needed more in my life and that's where I am right now.

I think the life experience that comes with being older will only help us in school. We are more focused. we are more concerned with the goal, not just the experience. I think when you're older, you have to be more serious because there is more at stake. So don't be down about this speed bump. It takes a lot at this age to take the enormous leap to even think about doing this. It's not like we're just out of undergrad trying to figure out life. At this age, there are practical concerns and logistics that need to be considered. This is a brave decision and you should be proud of yourself for trying. Believe in yourself - I believe in you!

 

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23 hours ago, MaytheSchwartzBeWithYou said:

*waves* hi there! I'm in my early thirties, and got my master's in art history in 2013. I've found juggling application prep with working full time to be fairly challenging - coming home exhausted at the end of the day only to work three more hours on an application doc is about the last thing I wanted to do this cycle. I'm finding that once I get back into a groove of researching and writing about my real passions it's totally worth it, and my brain remembers how to push through long hours like I did in my graduate program. And hey, it's good practice for being back in school, right? :-)

Its harder to make time to spend with my husband on week nights (he's a copywriter and sometimes has a wonky schedule) but I think the key is trying to be as flexible as possible, and DEFINITELY learning to let go of guilt sometimes when you're not doing something "productive" and feel like you should be.

LOL, I think the wait is stressful no matter your age. I try to throw myself into work, do some reading/make a list of materials I need to get through to strengthen my knowledge base, and set aside time for something low-pressure and creative (I've taken up art journaling).

How about you? How are you feeling about the process and dealing with the anxiety?

Personally I have never been so grateful to have a job that has nothing to do with my specialism. I'm dealing with this time in my life by throwing myself into that as a wonderfully welcome distraction.

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5 hours ago, The Shade King said:

I am in my early 30s. So I know going back to get a  PhD will be interesting for me but many professors I spoke to said that I would be a more attractive candidate as I have life experience, have a  successful career, etc. and I have a better idea of what I want to do. 

THIS. I think overall age is actually a benefit, not a detriment. I wasn't aware of this until after I graduated, but my master's committee chair had a 10-year span between her master's and PhD (she graduated from UCLA, which is a big school in my field). She told me time between degree programs is not important as long as you can describe intelligently your path to get back into academia, and how your past choices have brought you to this point. Is it best to have been active in your field during this time off? Probably. But as Shade said, we've had time to develop skills younger students have not, that ARE applicable to academia (for instance, I've spent the last few years as a grant writer/manager in a field that aligns with my own, and research grants, writing skills, etc. are super important). We've had more time to determine that this is something we definitely want to take on. I'm not sure 20's me would have felt ready for such an undertaking.

So, be proud! And know that there are people on here who are cheering you on. :-)

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Hello All:

I'm 45+ and just applying to PhD programs. I have cycled thru a number of different careers (Military, Geologist, HS Teacher) - I just tell folks I don't know what I want to do when I grow up!  Anyway, I did sweat the age thing in applying. However, I don't think I am seeing any evidence of a negative from it. I applied to five different schools (well, actually finished that many apps): two MS, three direct to PhD. One of the MS programs accepted almost immediately back in October. Just got acceptance from the firrst PhD program (major player in the field, R1, guaranteed support for five years). So, keep your head up - it can definitely work!

A question though: This R1 acceptance... The research at this place is not precisely what I would like (more BioChem and Drug research). One of the other programs has a research focus I am more interested in. BUT... that other program is smaller, newer, and maybe less stable. Definitely less well funded. I'm pretty sure I am going with the safer bet but would like to solicit comments and suggestions.

Thanx,

CaveShvig

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5 hours ago, Caveshvig said:

Hello All:

I'm 45+ and just applying to PhD programs. I have cycled thru a number of different careers (Military, Geologist, HS Teacher) - I just tell folks I don't know what I want to do when I grow up!  Anyway, I did sweat the age thing in applying. However, I don't think I am seeing any evidence of a negative from it. I applied to five different schools (well, actually finished that many apps): two MS, three direct to PhD. One of the MS programs accepted almost immediately back in October. Just got acceptance from the firrst PhD program (major player in the field, R1, guaranteed support for five years). So, keep your head up - it can definitely work!

A question though: This R1 acceptance... The research at this place is not precisely what I would like (more BioChem and Drug research). One of the other programs has a research focus I am more interested in. BUT... that other program is smaller, newer, and maybe less stable. Definitely less well funded. I'm pretty sure I am going with the safer bet but would like to solicit comments and suggestions.

Thanx,

CaveShvig

Thats a tough one. If I get admitted to some of my programs I'll probably have to make the same decision. I would say though that I would take the program that speaks more to your interests, not just the program that has the better reputation. My top choice is not the top university I applied to, but if I get accepted I will absolutely go because I'm going to be at this for a looooooong time. I want to be in the program that makes me happy and speaks to my academic interests. You will likely have a better experience.

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On 1/21/2017 at 0:16 PM, nesasp83 said:

Hello everyone! I agree entirely with the post above! I am not sure how age is viewed by admission coordinator's, but I am sure that they try to find a balance,after all experience is essential in any area one wishes to study in more depth. 

In my particular case, I am 33 and applying to a master's in Education. I have been teaching for almost 8 years and I think that (if admitted into my desired program) my experience will only be an asset. Theory without practice is nothing but theory.

I also hope there are student's even more experienced! Wouldn't it be inspiring to have someone in a classroom with 30+ years of experience? :)  

I think we have so much to offer to our cohort! I would hope that admissions committees would value the life experience we have and our maturity. I am sure that if I get accepted I can bring a different and valuable perspective to the program - one that a student doesn't have when they are 22.

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On 1/19/2017 at 11:11 PM, SarahBethSortino said:

Hello

Thought I would start this thread to see if I could bring together any older applicants. I see a lot of people applying while still in undergrad, or a few years out. I'm 35 with a MSc. in History from University of Edinburgh. Applying exclusively to schools in Massachusetts/Rhode Island. How are the older applicants dealing with the wait? And how are you managing the transition to Grad school in addition to work, families, spouses, etc?

Hi! I'm 33, just finished my BA in Linguistics after poking at it for 14 years. I have a toddler and I'm about to have another baby (literally sometime this week, could happen tonight!) so that's a good distraction from the application wait! Except at 2am when I start worrying. I only applied to four schools, which now seems like WAY too few; I've received one rejection, and looks like two other schools have sent out interview requests (I didn't get one). So I'm pinning my hopes on that fourth school, which was my least favorite choice, but definitely better than nothing.

I feel like the "extra experience" thing doesn't apply to me very well, since I wasted most of my 20s and don't have a solid background in the workforce any more than I have the extra research experience or MA that most applicants in my field seem to have :-/

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I am in the second half of my 30s. Having worked hard for fourteen years, I managed to have a decent number in my saving account and decided to fulfill the dream of my youth in last summer. Now waiting for the decision from Oxford.  Glad to know that I am not the only older applicant to graduate programs.

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8 hours ago, Caveshvig said:

I just tell folks I don't know what I want to do when I grow up!

I'm 55, and still tell them that I still want to be a cowboy.

Anyway - I just got notified that my primary POI wants to have an interview with me next week.

 

 

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Hello, I'm 31, currently applying to PolSci programs (international student). I've completed my MA 5 years ago, and I've been working at government for 6+ years. What is particularly challenging in my case is that my wife is also applying to PhD programs (Education, Public Policy). If both of us get admitted, we'll have to figure it out how to handle distance (we are applying to programs in CA, NY, PA, MA, MD, RI, NJ, CT and even in UK ...)

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There are so many of us! YAY!

I'm 35+, just finished my second MA and my first round (and hopefully my last) of applications for PhD programs... I worked for a bit before getting my first MA in policy thinking I wanted to work for the UN or such. After working in policy for a while, I was better able to picture my career trajectory and visualize what my day to day would be should I continue down that path. I didn't like what I saw and decided that I'd return to school and do a second MA. I'm like a decade or more older than everyone in my MA cohort and I have friends from undergrad who are already getting tenure-track positions. The friends I have who stayed in the corporate world are pretty senior now and making lots of money. Then there are the friends who decided to be stay at home moms. It's a bit nerve-wracking to be starting something completely new at this age, I'm sure a lot of you can sympathize with that. For me though, the thing that worries me the most is that I've never stayed in one job for more than 2.5 years. Undergrad was the only time in my life that I was part of one institution for more than 3 years and even then, I took a year off before my last semester. So there's a part of me that's not so confident that I can stick with one thing for 5+ years. In a sense, I feel like I've painted myself into a corner and will be forced to complete my phd asap because of my age, so that's the bright side. 

Also, when I saw a friend freak out and obsess about admissions this time last year (losing sleep etc), I thought she was being young and silly. I thought that she'd led a cushy life up until now and didn't know what really warranted freaking out. Now I feel bad for being so judgmental since I'm totally obsessing! I thought I'd be used to applying for something and waiting for the results since this isn't my first rodeo- but this is so different from applying for jobs in the corporate world... At least with that, they usually get back to you quickly or give you some sort of time frame for when they'll get back to you. With my MA applications the second time around, I went to school in Seoul, Korea, where it it standard for schools to have an announcement date set in stone so you can kind of forget about it until that particular day. With the programs I'm applying to, it's not even clear whether or not I will be interviewed as schools all have different policies. 

In a sense I'm lucky that I don't have to worry about kids or a spouse, but my parents aren't getting any younger and I worry about their health since they'll be at least a 15 hr flight away if I get into school this time around. 

I know a lot of younger students who are still really unsure about themselves, their careers and futures. Not that being 30+ magically results in any sort of certainty, I do feel like older students who have to juggle families, give up big salaries, or just face the uncertainty of starting all over again only do so if they really are dedicated to the path. So I definitely think we have that going for us! Best of luck!!

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