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Too Old to gain Admittance? Chances, anyone?

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Too Old to gain Admittance? Chances, anyone? [#permalink] New post 19 Feb 2005, 14:30
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I'm 40, working on PT MBA at top-70 school, have a J.D. from lower top-tier school. UG GPA 3.7, MBA GPA 3.6., JD GPA 2.9 (forced curve, top-half of class).

I teach as an adjunct at a small university and a community college, practice law, also sales/sales mgmnt in background (10 yrs total experience).

Haven't taken GMAT, but did well on LSAT back in the distant reaches of time, well enough to get scholarship to law school. Wife did PhD work in Math, would be great tutor for quant, think I could do well on GMAT.

Problem is I'm old and won't be finishing MBA for another year+; wouldn't be applying for PhD programs until I suppose late '06 when I'm 41.

Am I just too stinking old? Assuming I do well on GMAT, do I have a shot at a decent PhD program? Top 50? Top 30? Top 20? Or am I dreaming?
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It was close, but I got in. [#permalink] New post 24 May 2005, 19:14
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For littlefauss and any other "greybeards" interested in pursuing a business PhD later in life, I'm happy to report that I was accepted at one of the 6 b-schools that I applied to for (M)IS, and I'll be starting there in the fall. The university does not have a USN/BW ranked MBA program, but it does place in the top 75 in the UTD research rankings. There are several other factors that make it a good fit for me, so I am very happy to be going there. I believe that I got very close with a top 25 school (2 interviews and a lot of other contact), and made a couple of other waitlists (top 50 or so schools).

Was age a factor in the 5 rejections? I still don't really know, although I'll share some impressions. First of all my stats, which are solid, but not outstanding:

Age 45, 20 years w/e covering all phases of systems development, native English speaking male, BA Math from large metro univ. (20 years ago) GPA 3.0, MS Info Systems from small regional school (just completing) GPA 4.0, GMAT 680 (42q 40v), GRE 730q 710v (I used GRE when I could), no academic publications (a few practitioner pubs), no academic research experience.

Nevertheless, these stats are not out of line with the posted profiles of any of the schools I applied to. I asked for feedback from the Top 25 school that interviewed me and was told that the final decision came down, primarily, to their assessment of my motivation to do high-level research. (I think that I can reasonably assume that this was at least one factor with the other schools also.) While I don't think that my age had a direct impact on their decision (a couple of the current students in this school were around 40), I do think that the burden of proof of motivation was probably higher for me. For example, one of the profs I talked with assumed my primary interest was teaching when my SOP was pretty much entirely about my motivation to do research (although I am interested in teaching). I think that some actual research that my recommenders could have talked about would have helped with this, but my current school is a teaching school and my current program is heavily practitioner-oriented (like an MBA). Ironically, both my recommenders have contacts at the school that accepted me (one is an alum), which certainly didn't hurt.

So, here are my impressions: 1) the older you are, the more you have to convince adcoms that you want to do research. Demonstrating that is better than telling. Also, the higher ranked the school is, the more they may want "young lions" who will crank vast quantities of high-quality publications throughout their careers. If you're not young, you have to at least convice them that you're a lion. 2) As others have said on this forum, it helps to take a look at the program web pages to see if they have any current older students. Also, I think the older the profs, the better. 3) Recommenders that resonate with the adcoms, either through reputation or affiliation, are very useful.

I'm hoping that this will be some encouragement to other oldsters who may be considering a career change to academia, but are concerned that they won't be accepted. It was very close (I didn’t get accepted until last week--I had pretty much given up), but I got in. The hard part begins in the fall. I'm really looking forward to it.
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 [#permalink] New post 26 May 2005, 23:06
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HI

I am almost 34 now. I applied to 6 places Penn State, South Carolina, Cincinnati, Utah, Texas Tech and TExas A&M .Got confirmation from 3 places South CArolina, Cincinnati and TExas TEch. My background is just about ordinary - BSc and MBA from a non descript place in India and not too great a work experience either. I scored 700 in GMAT ( I believe I could have done better but that's another story), so that too wasn't particularly great. I did really slog it out with the SOPs ; reading research papers from the faculty of the schools I was applying to and corresponding with a few of the encouraging profs.

What I gathered from the entire experience was that SOP should make an impact and that the faculty should recall you while admission evaluations are on. Where ever I wrote about my age , the same reply was heard" IT IS ILLEGAL IN US TO CONSIDER AGE AS A FACTOR TO DENY ADMISSIONS". I know bias would still exist in the minds of Ad Com but I guess if you can compensate it with some other factor , things tend to balance out. Ofcourse I cannot say about the absolute elite colleges, but I guess some of them are sympathetic to the older people ! SO cheer Oldies, all is not lost yet !
"WHILE I BREATHE I HOPE"
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Re: I'll let you know... [#permalink] New post 23 Feb 2005, 13:39
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jaypalm wrote:
Littlefauss,

I'm an old guy (45!) applying for a PhD in MIS for 2005 admission. I applied to 6 schools ranking from about 15 to maybe 70 (if the rankings go that low), and I'm sweating out the results right now.

On this and similar boards, you will find a lot of pessimism about your chances (See the "age and a successful academic career thread, below). Talking with professors at my current school (which is a small regional school), however, I get a more encouraging outlook. I don't know what the real situation is, but I'll find out soon enough.

I have gotten an interview at a top 20 school, which is a hopeful sign. I'll try to remember to post on this board once all of the results are in.


I've been in contact since we shared posts with a fellow who entered UMass' PhD program in Biz in his early 50s. Has really been a nice guy, gave me a lot of great advice, and told me that it's by no means an insurmountable goal around our age. Of course, age is a factor as has been pointed out, and UMass isn't Harvard/Wharton/Stanford, but it isn't exactly a lower-rung program, either, they typically make USN's top 60 or 70 of B-schools. So it can be done at a good school. I don't know about a top-15 like you applied for, but I would guess you'll be considered at some; the rest up to you.

Also, one bit of I think very valuable insight he gave me. He said that you should get to know the profs in your program as well as you can, find one who is doing research in you pet area, get to know him or her. If you work well with them, meet them, they like you, he claims it greatly increases your chances--it's not strictly about GMATs and GPAs or even age, it's also about who they'd like to work with, whether they think you'd be someone they'd like to have as a research colleague for the next few years.
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 [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2005, 04:32
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That is one of the best advices I have seen.

I agree with the idea that we haven't been able to develop ideas and info about many schools, that is a fair challenge. I have myself not seen many people posting about their experience, perhaps it is because this PhD forum is still in its infancy. As it grows and alumni return to the board to give advice, perhaps we can find better advice for a lot of schools. But being in a PhD program myself, let me say that there is nothing like a lower ranked school for a Phd. What is the criteria ? student numbers ? MBA rankings ? Papers published ? Well, it could depend a lot on research area and the individuals at the schools. A PhD program is a very high investment for a School, you need to schedule separate classes, faculty needs to get involved, and you need to forego tution as well as pay scholarships to students. Hence most PhD programs are quite good, mediocre programs do not survive - unlike MBA. Do not therefore worry about rankings, getting into a program suitable for you is what is most important. That is very un-MBA like.

Hope for the best for both of you, and best of luck !. And please do return to advise others who seek your views. There aren't many forums on the net where people can post questions about PhD programs and can be assured of genuine responses.
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Re: Too Old to gain Admittance? Chances, anyone? [#permalink] New post 05 Apr 2008, 11:35
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For anyone who cares or remembers me:

Three long years have gone by since I first posted this thread. A lot of things have happened. I never did apply for a PhD program.

However, after five years of adjuncting for beans, watching my bank account go from black to red, shooting out 100 vitaes, constant networking, attending an academic conference to present research when I was so strapped for cash I slept in the back of the car rather than in the hotel with the other attendees, my JD/MBA finally landed me a tenure track job in AACSB business academia at a fair-sized state university. I start this fall (08).

A position in academia at such a school is the primary reason I was interested in a PhD--really, the only reason. So things took care of themselves. I may one day advance my education and get a second doctorate--the real kind--but for now I'm just glad that I got where I dreamed.

Thanks to all for their advice, I hope all of you who were here 2 - 3 years ago got into PhD programs, perhaps we may meet in academia.

Best to you all.

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I'll let you know... [#permalink] New post 20 Feb 2005, 02:40
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Littlefauss,

I'm an old guy (45!) applying for a PhD in MIS for 2005 admission. I applied to 6 schools ranking from about 15 to maybe 70 (if the rankings go that low), and I'm sweating out the results right now.

On this and similar boards, you will find a lot of pessimism about your chances (See the "age and a successful academic career thread, below). Talking with professors at my current school (which is a small regional school), however, I get a more encouraging outlook. I don't know what the real situation is, but I'll find out soon enough.

I have gotten an interview at a top 20 school, which is a hopeful sign. I'll try to remember to post on this board once all of the results are in.
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Re: I'll let you know... [#permalink] New post 20 Feb 2005, 07:34
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jaypalm wrote:
Littlefauss,

I'm an old guy (45!) applying for a PhD in MIS for 2005 admission. I applied to 6 schools ranking from about 15 to maybe 70 (if the rankings go that low), and I'm sweating out the results right now.

On this and similar boards, you will find a lot of pessimism about your chances (See the "age and a successful academic career thread, below). Talking with professors at my current school (which is a small regional school), however, I get a more encouraging outlook. I don't know what the real situation is, but I'll find out soon enough.

I have gotten an interview at a top 20 school, which is a hopeful sign. I'll try to remember to post on this board once all of the results are in.


Good to know I'm not the only venerable one on this forum. Funny, at my job and in my profession I don't feel old at all. Here I'm ancient, at the end of the line--it's all about context.

Yeah, the USN rankings of B-schools go down to 80, The Economist has world rankings to 100, BW's rankings go to 70 in a manner of speaking, though past 30, they just rank them in tiers.

I hope you gain admittance. Win one for the old guys!
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 [#permalink] New post 20 Feb 2005, 09:04
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In my school there are two people >40 in second year. I am in my mid thirties. There is one guy one year junior to me in my batch ...

Age is an issue.. Anyone who says No is deluding oneself. After I got admitted, I talked to some profs who were in the admit committee. Faculty at my school were (perhaps unjustly) categoric in saying they would PREFER younger persons over more experienced.

That said, search for schools that do not have major bias against age. LBS, Wharton, Insead, MIT come to mind readily as more positive places. Columbia is so-so, Cornell is NO in big letters. Harvard and Stanford are the most negative. Duke is ambivalent. Rochester is fine with older people. Stern is not. ... You can go on. Look at websites, mail current PhD students. mail Profs. The replies will give you a sure shot idea of that school.

When you cross 30, your chances of admit to PhD program diminish - considerably. But it is what you want to do - your SOP in particular is very important - that determines admit. And yes, a big GMAT score helps to give a very positive sign. Best of luck ! :-D
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 [#permalink] New post 20 Feb 2005, 18:16
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anupag wrote:
Best of luck ! :-D


Thanks for the advice, my SOP will pretty much start and end with: "I want to make the move from tiny little college adjunct to bigger university professor." (although I fear finding the tenure track in that world at my age may be more difficult than making it into a PhD program, but first things first)

You mentioned some awfully good schools there, I suppose those might be beyond my reach unless I manage to blow the top off the GMAT--which, while I think I can do well, I was thinking 700+/- well. Want to hazard some wild guess as to what sort of GMAT given my various GPAs, my age, my experience, I might need to shoot for to have a shot at one of those prestigious schools you mention? 801? :wink:
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 [#permalink] New post 23 Feb 2005, 20:24
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Littlefauss,

That's a great story about the 50+ guy; you're lucky you found him. I think his advice is good, too. In fact, it's pretty much what I did. My advisor helped me identify key players in the field (he knew some of them) and directed me towards papers that were relevant to my research interests. I think the best advice he gave me was to read as many journal articles as I could to get a good feel for what research is really about (since I have very little research experience).

The schools I targeted were constrained by location. I wanted something within about a five hour drive of home so I could visit family and friends periodically (I'm not married). That gave me a short list. I then eliminated all the schools that didn't seem like a good fit (not doing the kind of research I wanted to do, really young faculty, very high ranking, etc.). I wanted the best school I could reasonably get because the school "brand" is going to follow me around for the rest of my career, but I wasn't sure about my quals and, of course, the "age issue," so that's why I applied to such a wide range. It's worth noting that my priority is doing research, whereas it sounds like yours may be teaching. Rankings may not matter as much for you.

There really isn't a lot about the mid-to-lower ranked schools on this board or the others that I look at. I'm not sure why that is; maybe applicants to these schools rely more on personal contacts and networking. Although I think most of the stuff you see on here (thanks to anupag and co.) is applicable to lower ranked schools, the GMAT scores are quite intimidating. If you look at the accepted stats or posted ranges for some of the lower ranked schools, you'll find that they are a lot more reasonable. So don't get that mind-meld just yet! Besides, you're a JD with a good LSAT so if you have any math skill at all you'll do just fine.

Live long and prosper!
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 [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2005, 12:00
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you will be !! :band
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2005, 22:02
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I'm not 40 yet but I'm getting there myself. :) I took GMAT on 2/15 and got 780. I'm applying to Univ of Rochester. Just mailed my application package out, hopefully it will reach them before the deadline (3/1). I've been updating my progress on the GMAT experience forum. If I hear anything I will definitely let you guys know. :)
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 [#permalink] New post 25 May 2005, 01:44
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Dear Jaypalm

That was a wonderful post !! I think your experience will be of immense value for future applicants. The critical issues highlighted by you - demostrated motivation, fit with school and resonating recommenders - probably differ the most between a young and a not-so-young applicant.

As for your 'hard part', let me offer my persepective - it is actually much easier, except the maths. The first year may be the most difficult. For the most part, if you are quant jock, it is smooth sailing. If not, you will not be hassled. The positive side is , most older students know their research interests, what they want to do and therefore complete their dissertations faster than many of their younger colleagues !
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 [#permalink] New post 25 May 2005, 18:55
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Thanks, Sameer. I've gotten a lot of good information from this forum. You're doing a great job with it. I wish I would have found this site sooner--I'm sure I would have done better on the GMAT! :lol:

I appreciate the insight about first year. I'ts kind of what I guessed. I have a (very old) math degree (mostly computer science), but I'm certainly not a "quant jock." Fortunately, I don't think IS research is particularly quantitative (at least in the behavioral area, which is where I think I'm headed). There will be a lot of stats, of course, which will be different from the coursework I've had recently, but once I knock the rust off I think I'll be OK. As for research, I had started to work on a paper in preparation for next year's admission process, and I'm thinking I might as well keep going. Who knows? It may be related to a future dissertation...
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 [#permalink] New post 26 May 2005, 08:14
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jaypalm:

Congratulations on being accepted! :-D

You're an inspiration to us old timers.

Now, I'm just eaten up from head to foot with curiosity here: where were you accepted? I doubt it would hurt things at this point, you're already in. I'll likely eventually be able to figure it out when you get started, as opf course there are usually profiles for PhD students in Business Programs, and only so many fit the vague criteria you gave, but I'm just curious.

Answer if you will, I won't, of course, be upset if you decline.
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 [#permalink] New post 26 May 2005, 16:22
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littlefauss,

I sent you a PM...
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 [#permalink] New post 27 May 2005, 06:40
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Hi everyone...

At outset, congratulation to jaypalm on his success - that is a beacon of guidance to us oldies.

I am 39, and hope to do a PhD if accepted by the Ad Coms commencing fall 2006 (when I will finally be forty). Am a graduate of IT-BHU, and then IIM Calcutta (both in India) some centuries back (1992) and now am preparing for GMAT ... :)

I also wanted to check out whats the financial support actually looks like particularly vis-a-vis the actual expenses
Any advise is most welcome ...

Cheers,
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 [#permalink] New post 20 Mar 2006, 04:05
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I am 34 +, just completed my MBA , and am looking for jobs now. But my long-term interest include doing PhD and entering Academics with interest in economics.

This forum gives me hope that I can still try after a gap of 1 or 2 years, as now I am worried more about repaying my MBA loan. Will it be possible to identify a list of Aged-friendly Schools ??

Regards

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Re: Too Old to gain Admittance? Chances, anyone? [#permalink] New post 24 Apr 2008, 08:44
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Dear Littlefauss,

Best Wishes for your new life. And yes, I remember you very well.

Just to introduce myself to our young club members, some of us (including Praetorian) had a cute idea of starting a forum for PhD entrance. It is now so active and with tons of good advice.

I have now completed my PhD (in 4 years), and landed a tenure track job at a bigshot university.

To answer the core question of this thread, after completion - No, it is not too old anytime, but very difficult to get placements at some universities where recruiters are 10 years younger than you. But all in all, the original advice stays - if your heart is in it, go for it !!
Re: Too Old to gain Admittance? Chances, anyone?   [#permalink] 24 Apr 2008, 08:44
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