PHD - am I too old ? How clever do you need to be!?

(18 Posts)
mycatthinksshesatiger Tue 29-Mar-16 20:43:14

I am considering applying for a PHD PT (over 6 years) at the ripe old age of 45. Is this too old? Colleagues tell me it's not, but I have this nagging doubt!

I also wonder if I'm actually going to be up to it intellectually. In my youth I did well academically and have an Oxford degree and a couple of Masters (one of which is in a the field I'd choose for the PHD) but since having children I've started to feel as if I've lost some of the intellectual capabilities I once had. I finished my last MA 4 years ago and ended up doing very well in that, but never felt as if I was up to it IYSWIM.

I would be doing the PHD purely because I feel very strongly about the area I'd be researching (in educational psychology) and because I'd like to draw attention to what is an under-researched issue. I would continue with my day job (in a different University from where I'd do the PHD) and don't particularly aspire to becoming an academic as things currently stand.

arclight Tue 29-Mar-16 21:35:09

Certainly not too old - in a previous department a student was into their 70s when they started a PhD. And it's not at all uncommon to see people in their 40s doing PhDs. Given your previous postgraduate studies it sounds like you would make an excellent candidate. If someone with your CV/background sent me a supervision enquiry I would be keen to discuss it further. Apart from intellectual capacity, the key things I look for are clear evidence of motivation and academic curiosity.

mycatthinksshesatiger Wed 30-Mar-16 11:19:05

thanks very much arclight that's really encouraging! Nice to know that I'm not to old!

holeinmyheart Wed 30-Mar-16 12:21:47

What ! Too old at 45....... You are being seriously ridiculous. I embarked on a GCSE I fancied doing last year, at over 70. I have a Masters Degree from my youth.
It was in an academic subject and I thoroughly enjoyed it and I passed. I had 8 months from start of the study, to the exam.
I don't consider my brain old. My body maybe is not what it was.
At 45 I was in my prime and so are you.
Definately go for it.

BlackCatSleeps Wed 30-Mar-16 12:26:24

Passion for your subject and willingness to work consistently hard are equally, if not more, important than academic abilities. And you're certainly not too old!

Good luck, go for it!

badg3r Wed 30-Mar-16 12:34:37

Everyone at every stage in academia doubts if they are up to the job at some point (said my top-prof boss). You sound like you'd be a brilliant candidate. The most important trait is tenacity when it all feels too much round the 1.5 year mark and it sounds like that will be no problem for you... Go for it!!

mycatthinksshesatiger Wed 30-Mar-16 15:50:04

Thanks everyone for your encouragement! It's really motivating me to go for it! I need to get a proposal done and have been procrastinating (will need to kick the MN habit for the duration!) but this has given me the push I needed to get started! Thank you!

Misseuropadiscodancer Thu 31-Mar-16 08:32:43

I hope not! I'm 41 and in the process of applying for a phd to start in October, having finished an MA last year. I've had a professional career in adult social work and, like you, became frustrated at a lack of research in my specific area, so am hoping to get involved in this area.

Also, having completed a couple of unsuccessful phd applications last year, I was surprised how political academia was (and I had previously worked for a local authority which was fraught was internal politics), and how much influence established academics have over selection (ie does the proposal fit with their area of interest rather than the quality of the proposal), but that could be just where I have applied.

Good luck with the application flowers]

SocksRock Thu 31-Mar-16 08:38:10

My Mum ia starting her PhD in September - she'll be 66 then :-) she's wanted to do one for ages, but is retiring in July so now is her time :-)

Veterinari Thu 31-Mar-16 08:41:06

Def not too old but with part time PhDs it's really important to have a clear boundary in place <speaks from bitter experience> It's really easy for life/work etc to eat into your PhD time so juggling this is really important

mycatthinksshesatiger Thu 31-Mar-16 10:21:52

Thanks everyone - some great advice here smile misseuropa that's really valuable information - I had naively assumed that it would be the quality of the proposal that swung it.... I hadn't thought too much about the politics involved but I can see that it makes sense....the area I'd be researching is very under-investigated and doesn't fit neatly with existing research interests in any of the departments I've looked at. However I have been encouraged to apply by a potential supervisor so I'm hoping that's a good sign!

Interesting what you say veterinari that is definitely something I'm concerned about, especially as my 'day job' is extremely pressurised (but would hopefully be cut down to 2 days a week). Do you think a PT PhD is doable in 2-3 days a week?

Lweji Thu 31-Mar-16 16:44:46

PhDs are like marathons.
If you are stubborn enough to last the three years (and even more, the 6 if PT and work!) then you can do it.

You don't have to be a genius.

Misseuropadiscodancer Tue 05-Apr-16 20:37:57

Just came back to say...I got the PhD smile start in October

Kaddy Wed 06-Apr-16 13:00:25

star yay!

PotteringAlong Wed 06-Apr-16 13:02:30

flowers

Congratulations! I'm in awe!

mycatthinksshesatiger Wed 06-Apr-16 15:18:09

Congratulations misseuropa that's fantastic!! Well done :-)

is it full or part-time? And are you willing to tell us which faculty?! We need details!

Misseuropadiscodancer Wed 06-Apr-16 16:08:07

Thankssmile it's full time ESRC funded sociological studies department. The PhD is a review of a particular service, the structure and impact. The supervisors are brilliant and lots of opportunities for additional research projects and publications (within ESRC rules). Thank you flowers

lifesrichpageantry Thu 07-Apr-16 21:49:04

Go for it! I am 41 and seriously considering doing the same (clinical psych) Excited and nervous but age is a big thing holding me back.

Thanks to everyone with their encouraging words as I'm more motivated after reading this ---- and best of luck OP!

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