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Stupid decision: too old for PhD?

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    Hey guys,

    I was talking with a friend of mine, who is also going to study in the UK, about the situation of starting a PhD at the age of 26-27. Do you think it´s too old for starting a PhD?

    He was considering to start a MPhil at a prestigious UNI (Oxbridge) and to decline a fully funded PhD at another, ´lower ranked´, Golden Triangle University in London.
    Do you think that´s intelligible. Beside the fact that he will have obtained a degree from Oxbridge, he will then start his PhD at the age of 26-27. He says that the Oxbridge degree will polish his CV because of the commercial name (brand) that Oxbridge has and that the additional year will pay off, wherever he might end up as a PhD student then... He wanted to know whether I think that his decision and argumentation is right or not, also considering his age. I am in a very similar situation (except the age thing) so it´s hard for me to judge.

    To be honest I am not quite sure what to tell him because I am truly not quite sure what to think of this! I am already struggling with my own situation so how am I able to give good advise at all.

    What do you think?

    Regards toni
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    Age isn't the important factor. If he has three years that he is willing to dedicate to completing a PhD and the funds to pay for it, along with the will, determination and desire, I see no ******* at all.

    He would probably regret not doing this, as it seems that he's gone through the motions to get to the this point so it's clear it's something he wants.
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    (Original post by to_ni)
    Hey guys,

    I was talking with a friend of mine, who is also going to study in the UK, about the situation of starting a PhD at the age of 26-27. Do you think it´s too old for starting a PhD?

    He was considering to start a MPhil at a prestigious UNI (Oxbridge) and to decline a fully funded PhD at another, ´lower ranked´, Golden Triangle University in London.
    Do you think that´s intelligible. Beside the fact that he will have obtained a degree from Oxbridge, he will then start his PhD at the age of 26-27. He says that the Oxbridge degree will polish his CV because of the commercial name (brand) that Oxbridge has and that the additional year will pay off, wherever he might end up as a PhD student then... He wanted to know whether I think that his decision and argumentation is right or not, also considering his age. I am in a very similar situation (except the age thing) so it´s hard for me to judge.

    To be honest I am not quite sure what to tell him because I am truly not quite sure what to think of this! I am already struggling with my own situation so how am I able to give good advise at all.

    What do you think?

    Regards toni
    Hello Toni,

    For the first paragraph; of course not You can start whenever you're ready.

    Second one; in my opinion, Uni is not important at this level; the supervisor is; look at the supervisor first. I will only do a PhD if and only if I could get a good supportive supervisor, then I will decide my next course of action. I would also go as far saying that I would not even do a 'funded' PhD if the supervisor is just plain >.< or o.O lol, get the picture? This is 3-4 years of your/his life; you/he really need(s) to check the people you/he work(s) with.

    Don't worry much about your friend. Focus on yourself first. That is way more important.

    Don't tell him anything if you are not sure of something; it's ok to not know mate : )
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    thanks for both of your answers.

    I think it´s eventually wrong to decline a fully funded PhD option (which he likes pretty much with regards to the topic) at a very good University in London just to study for a 1 year lasting MPhil in order to collect the University´s name. I agree that it will help him with regards to having the powerful Oxbridge name on his CV, but I think that maybe a full stipend from another highly regarded Uni in London could polish his CV as well. He said that he really likes the PhD topic and that the supervisor seems to be great but London is not his first choice to live in. Moreover, he says that he wants to work in industry as a researcher and that the name Oxbridge on the CV is worth more than just liking the fully funded PhD topic. Although he also said, that he is not quite sure whether he would find such an enjoyable PhD topic again after completion of the Mphil.

    I really don´t know, it´s tough.... I am trying to sort out my thoughts and future and his situation is making me feeling even more insecure.

    @ kka25 Probably you´re right and I should tell him that I can´t help. Although I would really love to....:confused:

    Regards
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    It isn't too old at all. I am 28 and hope to do a psychology doctorate at some point, but it won't be for at least 3 years most probably.
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    No, its not too old.

    A professor at ICL told me during an interview recently that they had a mature student over 46yrs of age who did a Masters with them last year and is now doing a PhD at Nottingham University (fully funded).
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    26 years...TO OLD?!?! (That is definitely not the *******. When his future work would require a PHD and/or he would throughly enjoy it, as it is something he allways wanted to do, than the age, exspecially at this young age, is NOT the question.) Of course it is easier to decide to do a PHD when you are 20 and so young that you could even do a second undergraduate afterwards or a world trip when you aren't sure, without anyone wondering about, but at the end, a PHD is a post-graduate degree/work and not a try out zone.
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    hey thanks for all your answers and thoughts.
    May I ask how old you guys are when starting your PhD?

    Would you do a fees-only funded MPhil before doing a fully funded PhD. I mean decline the fully funded PhD and do the MPhil at Cambridge?

    Regards

    toni
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    I think the too old perspective comes from seeing the result "phd @ x age" rather then the process "doing research as a 26,27,28... year old". I definitely don't think it's too old. It's not like he's starting at 35 is it?
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    Probably not. So you´re right I just think that spending this time in industry means more money because of earlier experience. But I am generally not sure what to think about his and my own situation ... so I am definitely not the one you should give any advice.
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    I am 27 and after having completed medical school I have decided to do a PhD in Cambridge starting this year because I love doing research. During my interviews in various PhD programs nobody ever mentioned my age would be to my disadvantage (on the contrary).
    I think that 27 might be well above the British average but in the USA and other countries it is very common to start your PhD at age 26-27. It is my general impression that people appreciate experienced candidates because their decision might be more well-informed than that of a freshly graduated BA/BSc.
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    (Original post by Poltergeist)
    I am 27 and after having completed medical school I have decided to do a PhD in Cambridge starting this year because I love doing research. During my interviews in various PhD programs nobody ever mentioned my age would be to my disadvantage (on the contrary).
    I think that 27 might be well above the British average but in the USA and other countries it is very common to start your PhD at age 26-27. It is my general impression that people appreciate experienced candidates because their decision might be more well-informed than that of a freshly graduated BA/BSc.
    Thanks for your answer. Then may I ask you for your opinion about the following?

    I talked to my proposed supervisor at Cam (unfortunately my scholarship application was unsuccessful) and I told him about my fully funded offer at UCL. It seems like he is really convinced that Cambridge will offer me far more doors than UCL. As I already mentioned in another thread, he told me that outside the UK Imperial as well as UCL seem to have no value because nobody knows the name. Like...You did your PhD at UCL? Isn´t that the University in the US (UCLA). Next, he told me that if I want to work in industry as an industrial researcher, they would look favorably at an Cambridge graduate. Even if it´s only a Master´s from Cambridge and the following PhD, lets say, from Germany... He says, at the end of the day I have a degree from Cam on my CV. That´s exactly what he told me....

    Being in a similar situation to my friend and with the professor telling me such things, it seems like my friend is right to do the MPhil and decline his fully funded PhD at UCL. Now, I am really afraid that I will miss out a great chance if I am not going to Cambridge.

    What do you think?

    Regards,

    toni
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    (Original post by to_ni)
    Probably not. So you´re right I just think that spending this time in industry means more money because of earlier experience. But I am generally not sure what to think about his and my own situation ... so I am definitely not the one you should give any advice.
    Yes, but that is true for every age and as a PHD is not allways a must, someone shouldn't to it just to have one, but because he is truly convinced, that he wants it. Age plays there a minor component. (Family, only a stipend or even self-funded, motivation, these are important questions...)
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    (Original post by to_ni)
    Thanks for your answer. Then may I ask you for your opinion about the following?

    I talked to my proposed supervisor at Cam (unfortunately my scholarship application was unsuccessful) and I told him about my fully funded offer at UCL. It seems like he is really convinced that Cambridge will offer me far more doors than UCL. As I already mentioned in another thread, he told me that outside the UK Imperial as well as UCL seem to have no value because nobody knows the name. Like...You did your PhD at UCL? Isn´t that the University in the US (UCLA). Next, he told me that if I want to work in industry as an industrial researcher, they would look favorably at an Cambridge graduate. Even if it´s only a Master´s from Cambridge and the following PhD, lets say, from Germany... He says, at the end of the day I have a degree from Cam on my CV. That´s exactly what he told me....

    Being in a similar situation to my friend and with the professor telling me such things, it seems like my friend is right to do the MPhil and decline his fully funded PhD at UCL. Now, I am really afraid that I will miss out a great chance if I am not going to Cambridge.

    What do you think?

    Regards,

    toni
    Where do you want to work later? And no, Imperial is not a unknown university...
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    (Original post by to_ni)
    Hey guys,

    I was talking with a friend of mine, who is also going to study in the UK, about the situation of starting a PhD at the age of 26-27. Do you think it´s too old for starting a PhD?

    He was considering to start a MPhil at a prestigious UNI (Oxbridge) and to decline a fully funded PhD at another, ´lower ranked´, Golden Triangle University in London.
    Do you think that´s intelligible. Beside the fact that he will have obtained a degree from Oxbridge, he will then start his PhD at the age of 26-27. He says that the Oxbridge degree will polish his CV because of the commercial name (brand) that Oxbridge has and that the additional year will pay off, wherever he might end up as a PhD student then... He wanted to know whether I think that his decision and argumentation is right or not, also considering his age. I am in a very similar situation (except the age thing) so it´s hard for me to judge.

    To be honest I am not quite sure what to tell him because I am truly not quite sure what to think of this! I am already struggling with my own situation so how am I able to give good advise at all.

    What do you think?

    Regards toni


    You're never too old to do a PHD.
    The only decisive factors should be:

    Will I have time for it?
    How will I fund it?
    Will it improve my employment, or will it be worth it?


    If you have time, can fund it and it is something you want/will help you in your career, go for it!

    Most people start their PHDs in their twenties, so you'll be a mere year or two ahead. I know of people who have done 3/4 year degrees, 1/2 years on Masters and then gone to do PHDs, so could essentially be 24-25 or older. Hope this helps, good luck! x
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    (Original post by to_ni)
    Thanks for your answer. Then may I ask you for your opinion about the following?

    I talked to my proposed supervisor at Cam (unfortunately my scholarship application was unsuccessful) and I told him about my fully funded offer at UCL. It seems like he is really convinced that Cambridge will offer me far more doors than UCL. As I already mentioned in another thread, he told me that outside the UK Imperial as well as UCL seem to have no value because nobody knows the name. Like...You did your PhD at UCL? Isn´t that the University in the US (UCLA). Next, he told me that if I want to work in industry as an industrial researcher, they would look favorably at an Cambridge graduate. Even if it´s only a Master´s from Cambridge and the following PhD, lets say, from Germany... He says, at the end of the day I have a degree from Cam on my CV. That´s exactly what he told me....

    Being in a similar situation to my friend and with the professor telling me such things, it seems like my friend is right to do the MPhil and decline his fully funded PhD at UCL. Now, I am really afraid that I will miss out a great chance if I am not going to Cambridge.

    What do you think?

    Regards,

    toni
    27 too old, I am rotting and withering away in grave then! And I haven't even started one yet. I only two admissions, one wait list for funding, and planning to make 6 if I don't manage to get in this year. Of course, 27 is not too old. In academia, you will often find people who have spent many years working, or teaching in schools and universities, while they work towards their phd, or even researching for upto 7-8 years as part time students.

    As for the dilemma: look at this way: you are both lucky! There is a good admission from excellent universities. And like someone said that for PhD the university name matters not as much as your supervisor. Who will expose you to his/her network, show you around, teach you the ropes, write with you your initial publication, provide pastoral support when emotions are flagging. So the decision should be made on the basis of: is the supervisor good? will he/she devote time? does he/she have a good publication record? does he/she have access to research money? have you read their previous publications, which one is closer to your beliefs and thoughts and politics (more relevant for social science and humanities, I imagine)? and so on.

    As for Cambridge professor trying to reel you in: of course, he will. Getting good research students also builds the profile of the academic, them getting tenure counts for their research achievement as well. And more than that, many do it for the pleasure of learning and thinking something true, and doing as part of their wider academic responsibility.

    So, I say take up the funded PhD position if the supervisor is good and your topic appeals to you.

    Best wishes.
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    (Original post by to_ni)
    Thanks for your answer. Then may I ask you for your opinion about the following?

    I talked to my proposed supervisor at Cam (unfortunately my scholarship application was unsuccessful) and I told him about my fully funded offer at UCL. It seems like he is really convinced that Cambridge will offer me far more doors than UCL. As I already mentioned in another thread, he told me that outside the UK Imperial as well as UCL seem to have no value because nobody knows the name. Like...You did your PhD at UCL? Isn´t that the University in the US (UCLA). Next, he told me that if I want to work in industry as an industrial researcher, they would look favorably at an Cambridge graduate. Even if it´s only a Master´s from Cambridge and the following PhD, lets say, from Germany... He says, at the end of the day I have a degree from Cam on my CV. That´s exactly what he told me....

    Being in a similar situation to my friend and with the professor telling me such things, it seems like my friend is right to do the MPhil and decline his fully funded PhD at UCL. Now, I am really afraid that I will miss out a great chance if I am not going to Cambridge.

    What do you think?

    Regards,

    toni
    He's spouting crap. Either delusional or just really wants you at Cambridge.
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    (Original post by cryptic-clues)
    27 too old, I am rotting and withering away in grave then! And I haven't even started one yet. I only two admissions, one wait list for funding, and planning to make 6 if I don't manage to get in this year. Of course, 27 is not too old. In academia, you will often find people who have spent many years working, or teaching in schools and universities, while they work towards their phd, or even researching for upto 7-8 years as part time students.

    As for the dilemma: look at this way: you are both lucky! There is a good admission from excellent universities. And like someone said that for PhD the university name matters not as much as your supervisor. Who will expose you to his/her network, show you around, teach you the ropes, write with you your initial publication, provide pastoral support when emotions are flagging. So the decision should be made on the basis of: is the supervisor good? will he/she devote time? does he/she have a good publication record? does he/she have access to research money? have you read their previous publications, which one is closer to your beliefs and thoughts and politics (more relevant for social science and humanities, I imagine)? and so on.

    As for Cambridge professor trying to reel you in: of course, he will. Getting good research students also builds the profile of the academic, them getting tenure counts for their research achievement as well. And more than that, many do it for the pleasure of learning and thinking something true, and doing as part of their wider academic responsibility.

    So, I say take up the funded PhD position if the supervisor is good and your topic appeals to you.

    Best wishes.
    Do you think the same counts when aiming for a career in a company (e.g. in the technical management). I heard that many people in industry just care for the big names. I mean will they recognize UCL even outside the UK? According to my supervisor in Cam probably not...

    BTW THANKS FOR ALL YOUR KIND INPUT TO ALL OF YOU GUYS. I APPRECIATE THAT!
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    (Original post by to_ni)
    Do you think the same counts when aiming for a career in a company (e.g. in the technical management). I heard that many people in industry just care for the big names. I mean will they recognize UCL even outside the UK? According to my supervisor in Cam probably not...

    BTW THANKS FOR ALL YOUR KIND INPUT TO ALL OF YOU GUYS. I APPRECIATE THAT!
    Yes, I think the elite institutions like to tell themselves and the world around them that businesses also privilege graduates from select institutions only. This is, what in critical discourse analysis, called as the power of discourses which perpetuate certain regimes/ideas. Why do you think alum groups are so popular for networking?

    I think the professor at Cambridge is only trying to bait you: one way or the other. I am also applying to what is a critical, niche area to universities in US and UK. And the people I am writing to are a part of a close knit community. So, they direct me to each other on who can be best, recommend me to each other, encourage me to apply and so on. That ways I have been very lucky, unlike you...
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    (Original post by to_ni)
    Hey guys,

    I was talking with a friend of mine, who is also going to study in the UK, about the situation of starting a PhD at the age of 26-27. Do you think it´s too old for starting a PhD?

    He was considering to start a MPhil at a prestigious UNI (Oxbridge) and to decline a fully funded PhD at another, ´lower ranked´, Golden Triangle University in London.
    Do you think that´s intelligible. Beside the fact that he will have obtained a degree from Oxbridge, he will then start his PhD at the age of 26-27. He says that the Oxbridge degree will polish his CV because of the commercial name (brand) that Oxbridge has and that the additional year will pay off, wherever he might end up as a PhD student then... He wanted to know whether I think that his decision and argumentation is right or not, also considering his age. I am in a very similar situation (except the age thing) so it´s hard for me to judge.

    To be honest I am not quite sure what to tell him because I am truly not quite sure what to think of this! I am already struggling with my own situation so how am I able to give good advise at all.

    What do you think?

    Regards toni
    What I have gathered from this is that you friend thinks hes too old (or past it) to do a PhD. However he has a grand scheme which involves getting into Oxbridge (likely fail number one) then using his Oxbridge degree, assuming that he passed (likely fail number 2) to waltz into a PhD at a "lower ranked" London uni (likely fail number 3). I will explain why I deem these to be likely faliure points. 1) How does he even know he will get into Oxbridge? Most of their courses have around a 20% acceptance rate. 2) How does he know he will even pass? and by pass i mean 2:1 at least. How does he know he is Oxbridge material? 3) By pointing out the other Golden Triangle research institutions as "lower ranked" it is obvious that he is not taking them seriously. They don't just let any old clown in Oxbridge degree or not. I'm just getting an arrogant vibe from your friend.

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