Other Resources My Cup of Joe » Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense? Rss Feed  
Moderators: k9car363, the bear, DerekL, alicefoeller Reply
Show Per page
 
 
of 2
 
 
2011-08-04 11:23 PM
in reply to: #3629824

User image

Elite
6387
50001000100100100252525
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?
AndrewMT - 2011-08-04 8:08 PM

That's encouraging.  I realize it sounds crazy, but at 29, I feel like it's too late to go a different direction or go back to school. 

There are a lot of Georgia Tech folks in my work place.  Great school!

Ya, and at 35 you realize just how wrong you were. At 40 you will know you had plenty of time. Still does not mean it is right or not, but ya, 29... I just threw in a couple of years for here and there.... you are still young enough.



2011-08-04 11:48 PM
in reply to: #3628967

User image

Champion
7474
500020001001001001002525
Placitas, New Mexico
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?

What do you really want to do and is a PhD required to do it? 

You could jump out of the work force for 5-7 years and do a PhD and then what?  Teach?  University Researcher?  Work in private industry? 

You've posted about this before, and I sense you're searching for something and a PhD might or might not be part of it.  Until you figure out what "it" is, a PhD isn't worth the time and expense. 

2011-08-05 4:05 AM
in reply to: #3628967

New user
11

Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?

I'm a bit older than you at 37 but am thinking along the same lines.

I've worked in IT since I left college at 21 and at 34 I decided to go and do my MBA, but I did it part-time so I could continue in the career I enjoy. 3 years on and with that completed I want to continue to push myself academically. I can't afford to give up work though nor do i really want to. I have no desire to ever teach so a part time taught doctarate seems ideal for me and I'm actively applying at the moment. I will hopefully have the advantage of it being sponsored by my company.

I will be early 40's by the time I finish so will have 20 years left to work. I also realise that doing something like this part time is hard work especially if I want to fit in triathlon training too!

Will it give me any more career prospects? I don't know, it will certainly be a differentiator but that might not always be positive. Also as I'm already near the top of the ladder so it might just add another rung or two but it's for personal fulfillment I want to complete it.

Anyway, in response to your question, yes I think it is worth the time. no I don't think they are worth the expense especially if you factor in loss of earnings on top of tuition fees.

2011-08-05 7:44 AM
in reply to: #3628967

User image

Queen BTich
12411
500050002000100100100100
,
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?

Well, I'm in the same boat. The difference is I need the degrees to do the job I want. 

I will say that you have repeatedly posted that you're unhappy and can't continue to do the job you currently have. So do something else. If that is school because it's your dream/goal, then go for it. Life is short. Do it. 

While you're feeling "old" at 29, I'm struggling with starting school again this fall for the next 5-6 years--turning 30--and feeling like I waited WAY too long. I *know* in my head that I'm not old and I have tons of time, especially since the medical field allows for work/study programs, but I'm struggling with feeling like an effing old fart among young college kids.

Just wish I had known my passion 5 years ago.  



Edited by Comet 2011-08-05 7:45 AM
2011-08-05 9:08 AM
in reply to: #3630164

Expert
1233
100010010025
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?
Comet - 2011-08-05 8:44 AM

Well, I'm in the same boat. The difference is I need the degrees to do the job I want. 

I will say that you have repeatedly posted that you're unhappy and can't continue to do the job you currently have. So do something else. If that is school because it's your dream/goal, then go for it. Life is short. Do it. 

While you're feeling "old" at 29, I'm struggling with starting school again this fall for the next 5-6 years--turning 30--and feeling like I waited WAY too long. I *know* in my head that I'm not old and I have tons of time, especially since the medical field allows for work/study programs, but I'm struggling with feeling like an effing old fart among young college kids.

Just wish I had known my passion 5 years ago.  



You'll be surprised how easily you get back in the game, and that there will be many people older than you there. It actually is becoming a disadvantage to students right out of school with no experience as they lack the ability to contribute real world examples, the ability to leverage experiences, and definitely the discipline.

The thing that you'll have a hard time with....paying $250 for a text!

Also, the same drive that makes us keep on with triathlon training, is exactly the drive that gets us through an academic program.

2011-08-05 10:33 AM
in reply to: #3628967

User image

Champion
7347
5000200010010010025
SRQ, FL
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?
So with the baby news does this change your decision?


2011-08-05 10:38 AM
in reply to: #3629966

User image

Science Nerd
28760
50005000500050005000200010005001001002525
Redwood City, California
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?
McFuzz - 2011-08-05 12:48 AM

What do you really want to do and is a PhD required to do it? 

You could jump out of the work force for 5-7 years and do a PhD and then what?  Teach?  University Researcher?  Work in private industry? 

You've posted about this before, and I sense you're searching for something and a PhD might or might not be part of it.  Until you figure out what "it" is, a PhD isn't worth the time and expense. 

McFuzz said it better than I did, but this is one of the biggest factors, to me.  Do you need a PhD to accomplish whatever it is you want to do?  Because, honestly, if you don't, I don't think it is worth it. 

2011-08-05 4:44 PM
in reply to: #3628967

User image

Master
1970
10005001001001001002525
Somewhere on the Tennessee River
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?

I earned my D.Sc at 42.    29?   Tadpole.   Talk it through with your wife.    It involves her as much as it does you.    Education is not necessarily a linear experience.    A course here; a course there.   Do what will make you and your wife happy.    For those of us who have no sure idea if there is an afterlife, or what form that a possible afterlife takes, it's  what we do now, in the progressive present, when  we are cogent and cognizant of the world around us,  that counts.  

 

Carpe Diem, grasshopper.

2011-08-05 5:15 PM
in reply to: #3628967

User image

Elite
4235
2000200010010025
Spring, TX
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?

Ok, fair enough, 29 is not mid-life. Probably still qualifies as a "kid" to a lot of folks, but I always felt that by this age I should have figured out what I was going to do with my life, which I haven't.  We'll, except for be a dad.  Wink

The news about a little one on the way definitely gives me pause and something else to think about.  My wife is incredible; one of the first things she said after the news is that she didn't want this to impact my desire/ability to go back to school.  Regardless, it would make things much more difficult.

Why do I want to pursue the degree?  Outside of the long held desire to get a PhD and a love of learning, I really have enjoyed the limited time I've spent doing research.  I could see myself working in academia someday, but I want to take the knowledge I learn and apply it in industry(the specifics of exactly how and why are a longer story).  I spend most my spare time reading journals and books in the field anyway, so since I currently work in an area I don't have any interest in, there's a lot of appeal of working in one that I do have interest in. 

Finally, I still feel like I have unfinished business with having to quit the last time I gave this a shot.  As Mike has mentioned, this isn't the first time I've mentioned this, so it's just been stewing over the past 2 years. 

2011-08-05 5:36 PM
in reply to: #3628967

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2011-08-05 6:32 PM
in reply to: #3629824

Pro
4089
20002000252525
Without house
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?
AndrewMT - 2011-08-04 9:08 PM

That's encouraging.  I realize it sounds crazy, but at 29, I feel like it's too late to go a different direction or go back to school. 

Well, if that's the case, I'm screwed.  I quit my job and went back to school full time at 32...I'm a year in and I love being in school...and I'm still working on my undergrad stuff.  I was bored in my career of 12 years and felt I could do so much more with myself.  Thankfully I have my husband's full support, which makes it easier, at least emotionally.



Edited by maggyruth 2011-08-05 6:33 PM


2011-08-05 8:39 PM
in reply to: #3628967

Pro
9391
500020002000100100100252525
Omaha, NE
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?
AndrewMT - 2011-08-04 11:41 AM

I spent 5+ yrs in the Army and got out in 2009 in order to go back to school for my PhD.  I was accepted into some of the top schools in the country for the field I was looking at (Medical Physics), and was able to choose between Columbia, MIT, UW-Madison, UT and Vanderbilt.  I chose Vanderbilt and moved to Nashville.  Unfortunately, Nashville wasn't a great place for job hunting in 2009 and my wife could not find a job after 8 months of job hunting.  We were out of money and facing either long term separation so she could work elsewhere while I went to school or I could drop out.  Because my marriage is more important than anything, I chose to drop out and get a job.  Great decision, even if it was incredibly difficult.

<standing ovation>  

As for getting into school I started my undergrad at 29 and I discovered all the "rules" for getting in just didn't apply for non traditional students.  It was pretty much go in sign my name and start school at U of Nebraska.  I'm sure PHD is different, but I would bet that it's easier to get in now than it would be straight out of undergrad.

I was already doing very well in my career when I started school and in the technology world where I live bachelors, masters, phd don't mean much of anything other than a checkbox on a job application.  There are some jobs that "require" degrees and some that don't.  Having the degree just lets me apply for the ones that "require" a degree.  

I would also recommend you spread your wings in the corporate world.  If your not happy in your job then it's not the job for you.  I always tell people that an employer wouldn't hesitate for a second to fire you if they had to cut their budget and you shouldn't treat them any different.  If they're not doing it for you then fire their butt and get a job somewhere that makes you happy.

Good luck and congrats again on the baby.

2011-08-05 11:00 PM
in reply to: #3628967

Champion
7474
500020001001001001002525
Placitas, New Mexico
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?

OK,

Industrial research is your goal.  Why not keep tabs on the companies you'd like to work for and apply for a position in their research departments.  Industry likes results over credentials so a PhD isn't "required" (and you might have the option to pursue it while working).  Are you a member of the professional society for that specialty?  If not, join and attend a conference or two, make some contacts, offer to serve on a committee, review papers, etc. to start making connections. 

2011-08-06 11:37 AM
in reply to: #3631402

Houston
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?
maggyruth - 2011-08-05 6:32 PM
AndrewMT - 2011-08-04 9:08 PM

That's encouraging.  I realize it sounds crazy, but at 29, I feel like it's too late to go a different direction or go back to school. 

Well, if that's the case, I'm screwed.  I quit my job and went back to school full time at 32...I'm a year in and I love being in school...and I'm still working on my undergrad stuff.  I was bored in my career of 12 years and felt I could do so much more with myself.  Thankfully I have my husband's full support, which makes it easier, at least emotionally.

I'm in a similar position to you and I'm actually so happy to know that someone at my age is working on undergraduate coursework. 

I actually have a law degree, but hate the profession so I decided to go back to what I should have done in the first place - totally changing my career path.  This entails taking a lot of undergraduate courses and getting a b.s.  I'm still working as a contract attorney, but it could end anytime.  My husband is on board.

To Andrew: Honestly though, I struggle everyday with whether I am making the right decision.  I worry about whether I'll ever be really employable.*  Good luck in your decision and congrats on the baby!

 

*In the back of my mind though, I know that I feel this way because the legal profession has totally demoralized me.  I hope to get my moxy back one day! Cool

2011-08-06 10:15 PM
in reply to: #3628967

Member
2689
2000500100252525
Denver, CO
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?

I can honestly say you're never too old to learn a new career. I'm 42 and on my 3rd. My first was repairing musical instruments (specifically woodwinds like flutes and clarinets), which I decided I'd do until I figured out what I wanted to go to grad school for. That's what a BA in philosophy & music will prepare you for!! I did that for 5 yrs, then became a paralegal. I did that instead of law school because I didn't want to go to school for 3 yrs and find out I didn't like it. I worked as a paralegal in a variety of settings (law firms, mutual fund company, university) for 11 years, then went back to school a 3rd time. I graduated with a master's in social work a month and a half after I turned 40. I know for sure that I'm in the right field now, although I'm not really sure where I want to specialize or how to get there. I'm still working on that.

Despite being completely underpaid and working at a call center with draconian rules, I'm helping people quit using tobacco, which is really satisfying and humbling. I have a jillion dollars in student loans that I'll be paying back until I'm 70, but I have no qualms about having made the switch to this new career. Plus it really helps that I have a wonderful, supportive husband who not only read all my papers but has a well-paid job that helps "support my social work habit," as we like to joke. It also helps that I don't have kids and don't plan to.

As for being an older student, I found that my life experience put me light years ahead of my classmates, some of whom were almost young enough to be my kids. My professors appreciated my active involvement in my classes, unlike some of my classmates who spent class time browsing the web or IMing friends. I wasn't sure I could manage at first because I hadn't been a full-time student in a rigorous academic program for 20 years, but I ended up graduating with a 3.97 GPA.

IMHO, if you can afford it or feel comfortable taking out loans, your wife supports you, and you feel you need to do it to feel personally fulfilled, go for it. You might want to wait until after the baby's born, though....

Best of luck with everything. Keep us posted!

m

2011-08-07 9:23 AM
in reply to: #3628967

Veteran
200
100100
Hudson Valley, NY
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?

Yes, it's worth it!  If it's something you want to accomplish, then it's definitely worth it.  

As far as financial part of it, college professors don't make the same $$ as in some other jobs, but the perks are nice - summers off (usually mid-May through end of August - although that's when they publish and research), holiday breaks, tenure, etc.  My husband is a college professor, got his Ph.D. at around 30, is tenured and it's been terrific for us.  

The academic courseload is rough, and so is doing the dissertation, etc.  We were lucky that I could work full time while he was doing his Ph.D., so he could focus on it full time and it got him through quicker, but for him, it still took 4 years.  It's definitely a lot of work.  

I think employers value life experience in an employee, especially when you are teaching college kids.  Many of my husband's colleagues were older when they went back for their terminal degrees, so it's not out of the ordinary.  

Good luck with whatever you choose!  



2011-08-08 9:10 PM
in reply to: #3628967

Elite
4235
2000200010010025
Spring, TX
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?

Thanks for all the great advice and personal stories.  I've read through this thread about 10 times over the past few days as I tried to come to terms with my personal dreams, the realities of life, the not too distant arrival of a child and the alarming uncertainty of our economy. Not surprisingly, I'm still coming to terms with how having a kid will impact my life, but I suspect it's going to make me a little less willing to take chances with my long term future and security. 

I'm going ahead with my applications, but I have some time before I click the "submit application" button.  GRE and subject GRE are done, so no worries there.  One thing I want to avoid is putting the potential graduate programs though the hassle of evaluating and hopefully offering admission to a candidate who isn't going to be able to follow through.

One thing that has been great to hear is the fact that so many people have returned to get a degree well beyond my 29 years of age.  It's helping silence that voice in the back of my head that's telling me this is my last chance to do what I really want to do. 

Thanks again!

2011-08-08 10:16 PM
in reply to: #3628967

Expert
997
500100100100100252525
North Central WV
Subject: RE: Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense?

You are only 29 and you are asking about getting a PhD during mid-life???  I guess it is all relative.  I would never consider anything sub 30 to be mid life!  For what it is worth, I have found that in the US, many women go back to college after they have finished raising families.  It isn't at all uncommon to find women in their mid to late 30s doing PhDs.  I still don't consider this to be mid-life!  I am now 42 and only very begrudgingly consider myself to be entering my mid-life!  Now I got my PhD when I was in my early 20s so not quite the same.  However, I can only say that being happy at work is worth almost everything in the world.  I have been in situations where I have hated my job with a passion and fortunately, I am now in a job where I love almost everything about my job. I am a much nicer person for it.  I am in academia, although not in the tenure-track and no longer in research. I primarily teach and I am employed by a medical school.  I get paid well and have the most wonderful, flexible schedule that a parent could ever hope for.  A PhD at any time of life would be worth the job that I have.

 

Oh, and forget about putting potential graduate programs through the ringer.  Think of yourself.  They will have more applicants than positions and if that means you need to stuff them around for a while, so be it.  That is how things work.  No one will think any less of you.  Trust me, in academic circles, people do this all the time and at all levels.  It isn't uncommon for searches for chairs and higher to have to start over because all of the candidates they interviewed decided that this wasn't the job for them.  You have to go through the process with each and every program that you are interested in to decide if it is the right program for you.  No one will think less of you for it.  At least that is my experience and I have been working in academia since, well sometime in the 80s. In the US, since 1999.



Edited by Malgal 2011-08-08 10:20 PM
New Thread
Other Resources My Cup of Joe » Is getting a PhD mid-life worth the time/expense? Rss Feed  
Show Per page
 
 
of 2