I will be starting a PhD (if all goes well) at the age of 26. I know this is not much older than the average, but how much do graduate admissions (particularly at top programs) see students that did not have the standard "4 year bachelors out of high school to PhD" route? For some reason I have the feeling that the prestigious programs will use anything they can find to reject an applicant. I had to drop out of university due to documented personal circumstances for a few years. Since returning I have racked up a very strong application all worried but I am worried that my "nontraditional" status will hurt my chances.