Accepting Older Grad. Student

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I would not be at all hesitant, nor do I think it's my place to make assumptions about a candidate based solely on his or her age.

One of my grad advisors was a second-career PhD. He had another, totally unrelated career, entered grad school in his 40s, landed a plum job at a top R1, and is producing groundbreaking work.

Are you uncomfortable about advising someone older than you?  If it makes you feel better, the potential student may have more life experience than you, but you know a lot more about the field.

I earned my Ph.D. when I was in my early 40s.  While my adviser was older, many of my other profs were younger.  It was not an issue at all.

I told myself I would only go back to shool if I didn't need to take loans.  Indeed, I put myself through grad school with a combination of teaching assistantships, summer jobs and savings.  Who knows, maybe this potential grad student recently won the lottery or inherited a sum of money, and is now able to fulfill a lifelong dream.

Your only obligations are to make sure the student is making a fully informed decision, and to treat her/him like every other student (otherwise it is ageism).

There seems to be a trend here . . .

My brother went back to grad school in his field at age 50.  He seems to be thriving and although he doesn't really need the money, will probably apply for teaching jobs and very likely have a whole other satisfying career.

I would say that anyone who is starting the degree at that stage in their lives and hopes to support themselves will likely to be very motivated to finish the degree in efficient time and do whatever will be required to be a strong job candidate (publish, e.g.).

Our oldest PhD student received the degree at age 80. It was a "retirement present" to self, the work was done at a relaxed pace and s/he was wonderful to have in literature classes after a career spent on the business side of a major publisher. I'll admit the dissertation was not cutting edge, but it was full of information about changes in technology for all aspects of book production that current students working on mid-20th-century literature are glad to be told is bound and in the library.

Quote from: hiddendragon on January 29, 2013,  2:02:44 pm

Would you guys be hesitant in accepting as your graduate student someone who is ten to fifteen years older than you? 

[. . .]

No, because it's illegal.


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