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Studying Does age matter?

  1. Jan 19, 2017 #1
    I am 18, I am going to be studying German in Germany for 10 months, and then go to a preparatory year (German studienkolleg) I will probably be 20 or 21 before I start actually studying in the university ( although I finished high school at 17 and got accepted in my home country's university, but it sucks, Germany is my only hope ) considering that I am really good at math and physics, and all I will be doing those 2-3 years is study ameliorate my level, will I be too old when I finally get a PhD? Knowing that I want to go to academics and do research, I may be 30 or 31 by the time I finish my PhD, which is the time that most physicist do their most notable work, how will it impact my career? and my chances of finding a position in a good university. Especially that some people get their PhD very young, and most people at 25 or 26. Also, will my brain work the same way? some people may say do something because you love it, but if I am gonna do something I love without the hope of ever achieving anything or advancing the field, or even effecting it, then I don't think I can do it.
    Also, is there no way I can make the period shorter? This is just not letting me think straight, I am starting to think of changing my plans to Engineering or Medicine ..
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 19, 2017 #2
    You will be too young to apply for a permanet position, most likely. And students won't realize if you are a student or a professor.
  4. Jan 19, 2017 #3
    Yes, but I will have to apply for a postdoc, which would only make me older .. I like the student or professor thing though.
  5. Jan 19, 2017 #4
    Most people get a PhD at 25 or 26? Where are you getting this statistic?
  6. Jan 19, 2017 #5
    Now that I looked it up, I realized it is wrong, I assumed that based on research I have done about Nobel prize winners. But doesn't that actually mean there's a correlation? the people that are doing really good are the people that are graduating young ( or it may be that the reason they are graduating young is because they are good ) ..
  7. Jan 19, 2017 #6


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    The situation is very different today. Things have changed in the past past 100 years and it now takes quite a bit longer to get a PhD than it used to.
    Also, different countries have different systems. Here in the UK it used to be possible (just a few years ago) to -in theory- get a PhD after six years (3 years for a BSc and then 3 years as a PhD student). Now most CDTs will require you to have a MSc or equivalent before they accept you and then the CDT program itself is 4 years; so the total time is now about 8 years.
    In Sweden where I studied you needed a 4.5 year MSc and then the PhD itself was 4+1 years (the PhD itself was in theory 4 years, but you also spent 20% of your time teaching so 5 years in total)

    Anyway, the point is that most people will be about 28-29 years old when they finish. It is not a race and you can't really shorted the duration of your PhD; if you are good you will simply do better work and publish more/better papers.
  8. Jan 19, 2017 #7


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  9. Jan 19, 2017 #8


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    "Delaying" entry into a university program for a few years is not going to make any difference to your academic career in the long run. In fact, just based on personal observations, having a couple of extra years of maturity and life experience can often be a major advantage in university.
  10. Jan 19, 2017 #9
    Someone told me once that it's the slope of the line that matters more than it's placement on the "time" axis.

    I.e. whatever your age is, just don't waste time in school - especially grad school. People can sit aimlessly for awhile, especially when completing their dissertation.

    -Dave K
  11. Jan 19, 2017 #10


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    Does age matter? The younger you are, the less likely you'll keel over in your sleep. So, probably.

    Does it matter what age you graduate from school? Since you can't finish if you're dead, probably.

    Is there a difference between graduating at 26 or 30? At least not in the US - assuming you're still alive. There are age discrimination laws on the books (As if you'd need them at 30, I'll be closer to 40 when I finish.) There are other minor concerns; such as, can you work long enough to retire comfortably, assuming a later start date in the workforce and less time to build up a retirement nest egg.

    You're not from the US, so I don't know about what protections Germany or wherever you're from offers, but graduating four years later at 30? Come on. o_O
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017
  12. Jan 19, 2017 #11


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    If you do your undergrad in the US and start grad school there right after completing your undergrad, you will usually be about 27-28 when you finish your PhD. Most people I know started straight from undergrad, but some people took a few years in between. So that being said, it would not be very noticeable if you graduated at age 30 or 31 having taken 5-6 years to complete your PhD.
  13. Jan 20, 2017 #12
    How about germany? What if I do my undergrad in Germany in a university ranked 13th in physics, I will be probably be 23 or 24 when I apply for grad school, I may want to go to the UK or the US, will age effect my chances of gettig into a top tier school? Can I skip masters?
  14. Jan 20, 2017 #13


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    I don't even think age is part of any application in the US, at least I can't remember it being on any I filled out.

    Regardless, I can't see why'd it matter.
  15. Jan 20, 2017 #14


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    Most places in the UK will require you to have completed a MSc or equivalent.. 23-24 would be the normal age for starting a PhD in the UK (nowadays quite a few people take a gap year etc so many are 1-2 years older).
  16. Jan 20, 2017 #15
    I mean, look around on this forum and you'll find people in their 40s and 50s asking if it's too late. But taking just a few extra years? Not even a question, it's likely no one will even notice the difference (although I do know grad students that are frustrated being thrown in with "babies").
  17. Feb 10, 2017 #16
    This is righteous. You will probably become a better student as you get older.
  18. Feb 11, 2017 #17
    do we get dumber when we get older? I think we get wiser and smarter from what I've seen
  19. Feb 13, 2017 #18
    Yes, but I believe that what happens (what happened to me anyway) is that you have to pay more attention to your physical health as you get older. The (younger) students I worked with had more physical energy so were able to study longer, sleep less, and eat less. They could also get away with eating poorer diets.. pizza, ramen, whatever.

    To "keep up" I realized that what I had to do was not try to study more, but to get more exercise and pack my food!

    -Dave K
  20. Feb 13, 2017 #19
    I was 24 when I started, and I had to start from behind normal university students. I'm now in a good school studying physics and doing research in astrophysics. I'll be 36 before I get a PhD, but literally nobody will care.

    You're good dude.
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