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Will I be too old to start a PhD?


phstudent123
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Hi all. I am 23, in my first year of an MPH. I took a year off after college before coming back. While in college, I applied to PhD programs, but didn't get into any. The feedback was that it was hard to get in without a master's and I didn't have enough experience. Now I'm worried that I lost my shot at a PhD, because I'd be 25 by the time I started, which is on the later side for starting a PhD. What do you guys think? Should I give up on it or would it be plausible?

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I don't think PhD programs care so much about your age as your experience. Did you gain the experience they wanted in your two years off? Do you feel you will be a better candidate at the end of the MPH?

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I'll give you the same advice I gave my not-quite-yet-mother-in-law, "age is just an excuse. You are never too old to go back for school. You may have other priorities that need your attention, such as bills to pay and children to support, requiring you  to plan your education more carefully. But age isn't the obstacle."

With an MPH, if you become past the point where full-time makes sense, maybe consider part-time programs (PhD/DrPH). If money is a concern, make sure you look into funding. But age is not your barrier.

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If I get in this season I'll be 28. I did an MA and started at 25. Most of my cohort were in their 30s. I know people much older who have gone back to school. Age is not a barrier and you would, in fact, be quite young for a doctoral student (across the averages).

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Provided I get in, I'll also be 25-26. I don't see it as an issue - to the contrary, I feel that my experiences outside academia will enhance my studies as well as provide soft skills that aren't necessarily nurtured while doing a PhD. 

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There seem to be two kinds of PhDs-- those hotshots who go straight in after undergrad (to whom you're comparing yourself), and everyone else.  Don't worry about people whose experience you will never have; just do what you need/want to do for yourself right now.

As far as being 30 or so when you're done, I have no idea what that will mean for the job you want.  But you'll hardly be the oldest person fighting for it.

Oh, and I'm more than twice your age.  Matriculated last weekend.  :)

Edited by Concordia
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