Starting a PhD Later in Life: What’s It Like and How to Overcome the Challenges

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We are taught that there is a certain order to doing things in life, and many of us make sure to follow the roadmap other people have set out for us. Your family, your friends and peers, the society around you – these and other external factors can greatly influence your mindset and the course of your career. Typically, you’d be expected to finish your PhD while you’re still “young” and while your career is in its inception. That said, this is not a path everyone is following, and whatever the reason for your delaying the PhD process, there is no law that prohibits you from getting your doctorate degree later in life.

However, there are some challenges of diving into a PhD after decades of taking your life in a different direction. This shouldn’t scare you though, because this process can be extremely fun and rewarding – it’s like finding your fitness motivation, it doesn’t matter how old you are, what’s important is that you’re passionate and have clear goals. So, let’s take a look at the challenges of starting a PhD later in life and how to overcome them.

Making up for lost time

One of the biggest challenges of starting a PhD later in life is the overwhelming nature of the process and the feeling like you’ve wasted too much time. This is a common worry among people who are approaching their silver years, as the fear of not being able to adapt to the times can put doubt in your heart and mind. Am I ready for something like this? Do I have the time and the energy? How much will I have to struggle to keep up?

These are just some of the questions you will ask yourself in those initial stages before and after applying for a PhD program. To banish your fears and regain your confidence, you will have to do your research, realize that you’re not the only one in this situation, and of course, find out about other successful people who have completed their PhDs later in life.

Getting acquainted with modern processes

Starting a PhD later in life can feel like prepping for your freshman year of college in many ways, as you might find yourself feeling completely lost at first. When you start a PhD straight out of college, you’re typically able to transition into this process seamlessly as you’re already acquainted with the modern processes, and chances are that you had plenty of time to do your research and choose your field of study.

To achieve the same thing yourself, you need to spend time researching PhD programs, but more importantly, you need to research the modern PhD process at your chosen university. You might find that things have changed quite a bit over the decades.

Don’t let menopause meddle in your plans

There are many challenges to overcome when jumping into a PhD as an older individual, but rarely will people take their long-term well-being into consideration when signing their application. More specifically for female applicants, it is important that you focus on your health and overall wellness in order to be as productive and successful as possible. This can be difficult if you’re experiencing pre-menopausal or menopausal symptoms.

While there is nothing you can do to avoid menopause, you can tidy up your nutrition and add probiotics menopause supplements to your daily routine to fight and banish menopause symptoms naturally, so that you can focus on your work. Menopause can prevent many women from pursuing a PhD, which is no something you should not allow to happen in our modern day and age.

Know why you’re getting into a PhD

Some people choose to pursue a PhD for the purpose of advancing their careers, while others choose it for the sake of learning and breaking through their intellectual and academic plateaus. Whatever the reason may be, you need to be honest with yourself and identify your long-term goals, and what you hope to achieve by earning your PhD. This will help put the next couple of years into perspective and allow you to focus your research and craft plans for the long term.

Talk to your peers

Finally, remember that you’re not alone in this journey. While there might not be another person of your age in your doctorate program, you will have no problem finding like-minded individuals online. Be sure to join the relevant forums and talk to your peers about their experiences to help prepare yourself for this exciting new chapter in your life.

Wrapping up

Pursuing a PhD later in life might seem like a daunting prospect, but it all depends on your mindset and how well you prepare for the journey. Use these tips to put your mind at ease and embark on this journey with passion in your heart and your eyes on the prize.