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Programs Seeking Guidance to do Phd in Physics.

  1. Aug 24, 2009 #1
    Hi Guys,

    I have been reading the posts on this forum for quite a while, and really value the suggestions and guidance. I am from Bangladesh. I would really appreciate your guidance.

    I finished Part3 mathematics(this is unique to Cambridge and equivalent to something like MPhil or MSc) from Cambridge in 2008. My first degree was in engineering at home and I wanted to pursue my interests in Physics. I am quite passionate about science and would have loved to study physics and mathematics as my undergraduate degree.But, there were not much opportunities to study pure sciences in my country I came to U.K in 2006 to try and get an admission in a Masters level course in physics. Most of the universities replied that with my Engineering degree I would find it difficult to embark on a Masters level programme. I also started doing odd-jobs to earn money that would help me with the tuition fees.

    Finally after much effort, I got a place at UCL for a Graduate Diploma, which is equivalent to the final year of the undergraduate degree. I did really well there and got admission to Cambridge. Part3 and my time in Cambridge proved to be the most exciting time I ever had in my life. It was a privilege to meet really interesting and intelligent people. I worked like I have never done before in my life, at Cambridge, just to prolong the experience of staying in Cambridge and following my dream of doing physics. It was quite a disaster when I could not get a distinction , I could only manage a merit. The Cambridge courses were quite demanding and extensive - I did High energy physics with only minimal training I got from my diploma.

    To make things worse, my financial situation worsened when my farther got ill- I had to support my family. So I started to search for jobs. I am 28 years old now. It takes much longer in Bangladesh to finish the first degree and you have to wait an year or two before being admitted to university after A/L. In May 2009 I found a job in a Trading Firm, it was quite a high-paying job. But I felt that after all that time in academia I was not really using my skills. I started as a trading Assistant which basically meant that I was making tea and lunch deliveries for the traders(I don't mind doing it but there was no training or opportunity to learn). A week ago I was asked to leave, I was told that " I am not pushy and uncompromising to succeed in trading". It came as shock to me , not that I was fired but I felt quite at peace and free when I was asked to leave.

    It is quite an unsettling time for me and there is lot of uncertainty--

    Now I have been offered a Phd position at Durham that involves research in General relativity(Modified General relativity where they try to explain the acceleration of the universe by playing with Einstein's equations) with full scholarship. Although this is a good opportunity, I have been worrying a lot whether it is too late for me to start a Phd at the age of 28. I was thinking whether to take my moderate results at part3 and the lack of formal education in maths and physics as a wake up call to not do Phd.

    I was wondering that I would be, atleast 31 when I finish phd, and if for some reason I wanted to find a job- which is a real possibility for me since I feel I need to help my parents who supported me quite well over all these years, would my age be a barrier to finding a job? During my job search which lasted almost an year, I was interested in finance jobs like quant analyst/ quant trader/researcher and found that most of the hedge funds or investment banks require a Phd for this. Would my age be a concern for this jobs if I wanted leave academia at the age of 31/32 right after my phd which I believe would suit my personality and interests if I wanted leave academia after research.

    I am unable to make a decision whether to take the offer from durham, or start finding a more suitable job which I am sure is going to be extremely difficult given the present downturn.

    Have you known anyone who had started phd this late and be quite successful? My doubts about my age may be unfounded it is just that I don't have many friends or family who have done this.

    I would really appreciate and value your suggestions. Sorry if the post has been long winded and personal.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2009 #2


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    I started undergrad at 26, will be starting grad school seeking a PhD at 30, and presumably will not be finishing until I am 34 or 35. I did waffle about this for a long time, wondering if it really made sense to start so late. But ultimately I decided that, yes, I would much rather go this route than do anything else. It just required a change in outlook. I am not putting off starting my life until I am 35. This is my life. I am living and enjoying what I'm doing right now.
  4. Aug 24, 2009 #3
    First of all, I think you should definitely go for the PhD! Part 3 in Cambridge - accepted to Durham - doing what interests you - seems like you're on the right track.

    As for the age, I know lots of people who start PhD in their late 20s and even early 30s. In fact, this is quite common in my country. I also know people who started PhD this late and are very successful. It seems to depend on your ability and willingness to work hard.

    Go for it and good luck!
  5. Aug 24, 2009 #4


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Lots of people who started their PhD in my year are in the 26-30 age range, so I don't think that's a problem.

    As for your other question: the fact that you've got through part iii without a formal undergrad in maths coupled with the fact you've been accepted at Durham imply that you've got a good chance of succeeding.
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