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Too old?

  1. Oct 18, 2007 #1
    Hi everyone, this is my first post.

    I'm after a bit of advice and hopefully this forum may provide me with a consensus.
    Over the last couple of years I've become really interested in physics and after toying with the idea for sometime and continually deciding I'm too old, have finally decided to embark on a BSc Physical Science degree with the Open University.

    I'm 26 years old and would like to have a career in physics. I do not have any experience, however I'm fully prepared to do the Masters and more once I have completed my degree. I should mention that I am intending to complete my OU degree in less than 4 years by taking almost the maximum allowed credits per year.

    Am I too old for this career change to be a serious endeavour?

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 18, 2007 #2


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    26 is NOWHERE near too old. I saw a guy graduate in engineering when he was in his 50's. Good Luck to you! Also, remember that there is a difference between a "physics' degree and a "physical science" degree. Make sure you are signing up for the one you want and not the other.
  4. Oct 18, 2007 #3
    I say to you go for it. You don't wat to be looking back and thiank about what could have been. Also, 26 is not old at all. Are you up to par on your math?
  5. Oct 18, 2007 #4


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    Yeah, 26 is nothing.
  6. Oct 18, 2007 #5
    I started my BSEE at 26 and am currently in my 3rd year. Like G01 mentioned, I see guys older than me all over the place.

    My best friend since 7th grade's mother went back to school at 45 after he had graduated high school. She went from making $20k a year and hating life to making >$100k and loving what she did.

    What a terrible world this would be if 26 was too late to change the direction of your life.
  7. Oct 18, 2007 #6


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    A number of years ago, I had an 86 year old man in one of my classes. He died one week before graduation and they presented his diploma to his widow. Was that "too late"? No, he enjoyed the last years of his life more by going to college.
  8. Oct 18, 2007 #7
    I started back when I was 23, thought I was too old as I had to start out in intermediate algebra. Glad I stuck with it though, it seems my maturity at the time gave me an edge against other students. Didn't have my parents to pay for everything, so took everything more seriously. Anyway, don't think 26 is too late. There have been people in their 40s in my classes.
  9. Oct 18, 2007 #8
    Not to get off topic to much, but G01 what is the difference?? I never heard of 'physical' science before :confused:
  10. Oct 18, 2007 #9
    How long does an undergrad eng degree take on average, 4yrs?
  11. Oct 18, 2007 #10
    BEng Honors is min four years. Of course, you can take longer if thats to much.
  12. Oct 18, 2007 #11
    Another vote for not too old.

    Do take some time and make sure you understand what you'll be doing after the degree though. People's perceptions of physics and the reality can be wildly different.
  13. Oct 18, 2007 #12
    Absolutely not. Also, quit toying with it, you'll just get older. ;)
  14. Oct 18, 2007 #13


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    Note that the OP is probably from the UK, where bachelors degrees take 3 years full time study.
  15. Oct 18, 2007 #14
    terry81: I enrolled in college at the age of 30, completed an associate's degree, and am now one year away from completing my bachelor's at the age of 35. I'm also considering a 2 year master's program after that. No, 26 is nowhere near too old!
  16. Oct 18, 2007 #15
    Yeah, in the US at least. Here's my university's four year plan for EE. It can be done in three years if you take two 9 hour summers and one 12 hour summer (governments, english and maybe an elective in the 12 hour summer is not totally unreasonable).
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2007
  17. Oct 18, 2007 #16
    I finished by BS in math and physics at the tender age of 42. I'm now 45 and getting my masters in nucear engineering (probably finish next year) and then I may proceed on to one on physics, or straight to phd.
  18. Oct 18, 2007 #17
    where are you taking your masters?
  19. Oct 18, 2007 #18


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    What about your source of income while you are a student? Part time or full time work? What kind? In the field or something else?
  20. Oct 19, 2007 #19
    thnks guys
  21. Oct 19, 2007 #20
    Ok you might not be too old to study engineering but what about getting your first job. I mean is anyone really going to pick up a 26 or 28 year old graduate when all the others are 22 ?

    Anyone gone to school late and gotten a good job offer ?
  22. Oct 19, 2007 #21
    Why would it matter if the knowledge and ability is the same? This isn't sports. Also, I do not see why one would put their age or birthdate on their resume. How would they even know? In fact, if I was hiring, I think I would actually prefer people a bit older, as it often (not always) can indicate more maturity.
  23. Oct 19, 2007 #22
    Thanks for all the advice guys. Rufus has probably hit the nail on the head for me though. That is the bit that concerns me the most - getting a physics based job after graduating, when I will be in my 30s with no previous hands on experience.

    Does anyone know of anybody who has acheived this?

  24. Oct 19, 2007 #23
    I'm not suggesting anything I am curious. If you want to do it do it. I want to study engineering, I already have a business degree - which I cannot use because I cannot get a job and I don't want to either. The degree was a mistake but I was too pig headed to admit it back then and I made myself finish.

    I work in a warehouse for the last year and a half. I decided I want to try and study engineering because I have wanted to do it since I finished highschool but I never did (for various reasons). I've got a lot of retail/customer service experience but no professional experience.

    I came here the same as you to find out If anyone older than 25 has reskilled (or skilled in my case) in engineering and been employed without previous experience in the industry.

    Theres a guy at my work 36 years old going back to study engineering. There is always the possibility we have not heard of older graduates with no experience getting jobs because they are few in number, not that they are not getting jobs.

    My plan is to go through an associates program first. I can pick up some drafting experience while I am at college if I am lucky and tuition is a fraction of the cost. The consequence is that I might have to spend one more year in college if I do not get good grades in the associates degree. The upside is after 2 years I have an exit point and the tuition costs are 10% of the bachelor degree.

    I'm justifying this too myself for several reasons, most of them are emotional.

    I said if I had studied engineering 5 years ago I would probably have a good job by now. Someone told me that in 5 years time I will be saying the same thing about now.

    I have been told that engineering is technique, with hard work you can pick it up.

    I'm 24 in 4 years I will be 28. Thats not that old. I should (hopefull) still have a good 20 years of work in me before I really do suffer from age discrimination.

    I want to do it - if I feel bad now about not atleast giving it a shot, how will I feel in 10 or 15 years time, when it really is too late.

    Make sure you can cut down expenditutes, live at home ? Save lots of money because excessive study can cut down your life time earnings.
  25. Oct 20, 2007 #24


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    By my understanding and the people I have talked to who have gotten the degree, a "physical science" degree program involves courses in physics and chemistry and they do not take as many upper level courses in either subject. I always thought a good analogy would be the following:

    A Physics B.S. is to an Engineering B.S. as a Physical Science B.S. is to an Engineering Technology B.S. Engineering technology is a great field to have a degree in. There is many employment opportunities and good pay, but if you are looking for Engineering, you don't want an Engineering Technology degree. I think the same relationship applies to Physics and Physical Science degrees.
  26. Oct 20, 2007 #25


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    Actually, I know of a lawyer who decided to go back to school and get an engineering (MS) degree, without a lot of hands-on engineering experience.

    It's doable.

    When I recommend someone for employment, it is based strictly on the capability regardless of age.

    Starting out late, one needs to look ahead to see what areas are most likely to provide a good opportunity for employment - but then that applies to a high school student or undergraduate looking for a major or grad school.
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