Need some advice for a friend ...
My friend is 43 and is worried they are too old to do a PhD full-time. They have 9 years HE teaching under their belt (they left their last post recently as it was making them very unhappy - life is too short and all that stuff). Do you think they can still 'take the plunge', or do you think they'd find it near impossible to find work as a lecturer again at the age of 46/7 (i.e. when they would hopefully complete)?
Your thoughts would be appreciated.
I reckon they'd be fine. All that experience will stand them in good stead for doing the phd and when they finish they will still have all that applied experience + a phd - can only be a good thing. I work in a large HE institution and have seen lecturers come and go, I think your friend's situation is not as rare as they might think.
If they are motivated enough to do it give them a shove in the right direction!
======= Date Modified 04 Oct 2008 14:17:22 =======
I know several 40somethings that have completed PhDs - usually they are the best at finishing on time too! However, I do have one friend in the USA who failed to complete her SJD (law doctorate) - her desire to practice law and teach ultimately took priority over her research.
Since your friend has taught in HE for 9 years he should be already be an excellent writer and researcher, so is already in a good position.
I'm 46 and very much hoping I will be done before I turn 47! I don't think it's a problem and the teaching experience will be very helpful for lecturing. Some research grants at postdoc level are aimed at younger reaearchers and often have a cut off of 35 - but that's a different issue and there are still a lot of other grants.
The only problems I find being older are to do with personal circumstances e.g. I can't move to get a job, which is very limiting unless you live somewhere like London.
======= Date Modified 04 Oct 2008 14:38:40 =======
Is it worth them continuing to do some teaching part-time, even if in another uni, so they don't completely sever their ties with working in HE? That might help remove some of the stress of thinking 'will I ever get a job again when I stop being a full-time student' thing. Even if it's a few hours each week just during one term of the academic year, it would retain a small degree of continuity for them in the current job market. I'm saying that as I'm a 'mature' student who has always worked either fulltime or parttime during my own Phd, and in the present economic climate I am really glad to be in that position, where hopefully I will have a better chance of getting more work or better work post-doc, rather than having to start looking for a job from scratch.
Heavens, I sincerely hope not!! I'm 45 and am just applying for a place at Bangor University for my PhD. I will be nearly 50 by the time I finish - but still plenty of years left to do research/teach or whatever. Your friend should plough on and get it done.
Hey BB I'm going to be 40 by the time my transfer to a new uni goes through and as someone who has taught in HE I think having a PhD can only help. I have a colleague who is 63 and he says that now he wouldn't take a PhD, but regrets not doing it in his 40s. Having no PhD and teaching in HE is a hard place to be. Looking for an HE post without a PhD is incredibly tough so I really think there is no competition, especially if your friend has funding for a full time place. If your friend goes back to full time HE teaching in their mid forties they still have 20 years of their career left, more if the retirement age goes up. In some ways I'm glad I'm doing this now and not in my early 20s because I have seen other pastures, had many interesting experiences and know for certain this is for me. 20 years is a long time in any career.
Also!! my ex - supervisor was in her late forties when she finished her PhD, had no teaching experience whatsoever when she started, is now well published and is a senior lecturer in a red brick so I really wouldn't worry about it. My dad's been a senior lecturer for over 25 years and says noone gives a hoot! they just care if you can do the job.
I think in many respects the HE environment has been buoyant employment wise for the past 10 or so years (believe it or not). With a expected change in Govt. to a political party that doesn't subscribe to the philosophy of 'a University in every town' (or suchlike) I think employment prospects in HE will tighten markedly.
In those instances, I (personally) can see ageism coming into play and "good old 'uns" fairing worse compared with younger (similarly qualified/experienced) candidates. Not trying to rain on anyones parade here btw
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