PhD in Middle Age?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by shar, Dec 18, 2004.

  1. shar

    shar New Member

    I have been reading the postings on this site for quite sometime, and decided to finally join. Please forgive me if I am not as adept at this as most of you.

    I have queried family and friends, but felt some unbiased opinions might be beneficial for me. I am soon to be 47 years old and have spent the last 7 years completing my ALS, BASBM(3.89), and last week I finished my MBA(3.93). I would love to go on for a Doctorate in Business, but am unsure if it would really be beneficial to me at my age.

    My goal is to teach at least as an adjunct. I have been looking at the online degrees and while Touro seems to be the best for me in terms of completion time etc, I remain undecided if the additional cost will be outweighed by the benefits in the long run.

    I appreciate your feedback in advance.

  2. Messagewriter

    Messagewriter New Member

    PhD after mid 40's

    What's your degree purpose? If just to adjunct, employers look only to a master's degree and property field related work experience. My guess is that even with a distance learning caliber doctoral degree, not having the practical field related work experience may make teaching difficult. If you have the work experience, you're set already with an MBA.

    I'm 43 and have just applied to Northcentral U's PhD in Business Administrating (Finance) and Nova Southeaster’s DBA program (Finance). I'm in the final decision process now.

    If you had a vector [X1, X2, X3] representing weights supporting your degree decision such that 1 = (X1) needed to be hired + (X2) personal satisfaction + X3 (needed to improve income), what would these weights be in percentage terms?

    Crucial to this allocation would be whether you would want to seek a "full-time" academic position in the future. This path would more generally require a Ph.D. degree. Community colleges however, would not "require" a PhD, but based on the number of doctoral applicants, do tend to initially sort the applicant pool by this criteria. They like PhD’s more for full time, while they appear to weigh work experience more heavily for part-time, for practical reasons.

    Be happy to chat on the phone. We are essentially in a similar position as to age, degree purpose, etc.

    Good luck.
  3. shar

    shar New Member

    PhD in Middle Age

    I have 25 years business experience, and 10 years management experience.

    Personal Satisfaction = 50% Need to be hired = 25% Improved income 25%.

    My ultimate goal would be full-time teaching.

    Glad I'm not the only one who is in this position.
  4. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    We must have a valid reason, one that will be a strong enough motivator to see us through the hard times of a PhD program. In my case, vanity isn't enough of a motivator to see me through all that work. I continue to wrestle with the issue.
  5. Messagewriter

    Messagewriter New Member

    Me again comments

    Hi there.

    You make very valid points. Please allow me to confirm how you define "vanity". I'm not being argumentative, but if vanity in your mind is the "personal satisfaction weight, it may not be a constant over different folks. As someone if fiance, I learned long ago not to discount those in the humanities, etc. But honesty, an Ph.D. in english from a top 20 school is still a starting salary of $50k in many instances, so the motivation must come from satisfaction of some kind.

    May I ask what strategy you would employ to keep motivated? I'm being serious, because I understand that after a year of being bludgened by coursework, many who are not commited (over 50% nationally) bag the effort.
  6. Messagewriter

    Messagewriter New Member

    Re: PhD in Middle Age

    I would test these out. For example, how will your income be improved. My business experience is about the same. My income tax bill exceeds full time salaried community college teachers, so I'm asking how a Ph.D. could improve income if you have been in the private sector that long? For me, I determined that that weight was closer to zero.
  7. -kevin-

    -kevin- Resident Redneck


    your question has been discussed a good bit within the forum. I don't think additional income is an added bonus except for the utility of teaching or consulting. For me (at 48) it relates more to the options I will have after retirement. The ability to teach as an online adjunct provides me with an opportunity to stay mentally active into later years and provides a nominal additional income. I don't believe at our age that the opportunity to move into mainstream academia is available without the appropriate contacts, research, or published works. (Which is not to say you can't.) Therefore, I would recommend that you take an account of your reasons and make sure the personal goals would be worth the effort. I would recommend you go to:

    and take a look at some of the positions available for the universities and the salaries for those positions.

    Good luck on your goals.

    Happy Holidays...

  8. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Re: Me again comments

    I will not embark on a PhD program until I am fully committed in my mind. First, I will recoginize the type of academic work that will be required, along with the commensurate time that will have to be allocated to achieve it. Second, I will accept the fact that I will have to sacrifice other personally enjoyed activities for a minimum of three to four years, or longer. Lastly (and this one is a bit of humor), I will accept the fact that I will have to live as a hermit in order to be able to successfully complete a doctoral program. Once I have fully accepted all of these issues, then I will be ready to embark on a doctoral journey -- but not before then.

    For me, it's a "mental thing." I will not proceed forward until the fires of motivation are stoked.
    That also invovles a bit of soul searching. When the chips are down and when the doctoral requirements loom ahead, the inevitable question will arise within one's soul: "Why am I doing this?" One had better have a valid answer within one's soul to re-kindle the internal motivational fires, else one will give up!!!

    Subsequent to the above, it is important to resolve these issues prior to embarking on a doctoral program, if possible.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 18, 2004
  9. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    Aw, go ahead!

    Lookit, Rich Douglas did it in middle age. Bill Grover just did it and he's really old. I might even do it, too. I have no idea about the financial benefits or whether it's cost-efficient. I guess if you have the money and can make the time, you should at least give it a shot, rather than sit around wondering woulda-coulda-shoulda.

    Welcome aboard and best of luck to you.
  10. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    Re: Me again comments

    I have several comments I'd like to make.

    As to the quotation above, I would point out that while the 50K doesn't seem like much (although I'd bet the actual figure is somewhat larger) you also have to consider what prospects the individual faces without the degree. A person with a BA/MA in English could easily wind up working as the night manager at the local pancake house. How much does that pay?

    My own opinion is that age is not a factor. There are people who are 60 and largely free of obligations outside of their jobs. There are people who are 25 and have a job, a couple of kids, hey, who knows, they might even have a spouse. Which person is in a better position to pursue their education.

    I agree with meagain when he says that a clear commitment is necessary. The percentage of people who drop out of PhD programs is huge. They were all qualified (obviously) and committed (at least they thought they were) yet they couldn't finish. I am (regretfully) in that number. It's not the same as earning another Masters degree (but with a bigger list of footnotes).

    So, that being said, I'd recommend you push forward. If nothing else then at least you can say that you gave it a shot. That's better than always wondering.
    Good luck.
  11. qvatlanta

    qvatlanta New Member

    I finished all my Phd coursework before dropping out of the race, with no Master's to show for it either. It was a pretty depressing thing at the time but looking back, I'm really glad I made the attempt.

    It's really hard to tell who will make it all the way through. In my program, I think the quickest and most motivated were two African students I knew (1 Kenyan, 1 Senegalese). We regarded them with a mixture of pride, envy and amazement at the dedication and speed of their coursework+dissertation completion. Both of them probably had extra motivation because of student visas, but aside from that, they were very different. I saw other people not finishing for a really wide variety of reasons. There was no single majority reason. The only reason more prevalent than any other one seemed to be that the person was too young and not ready enough for the sacrifices involved in completion.
  12. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 19, 2004
  13. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    qv atlanta:

    Your situation was similar to mine. Family illness did me in, tho I got the autopilot master's.

    Remember, you can always take another shot at a doc some time, if you are so minded (and funded). But the idea is screwy that someone who doesn't finish a doc program is somehow stigmatized. I hope you don't see it or yourself that way. I don't.

    That's the great thing about DL. One is no longer at the mercy of a local higher-educational bureaucracy. Nothing is the "only game in town" any longer in 99% of academic situations.
  14. Messagewriter

    Messagewriter New Member

    Another pitiful tale

    I dropped out of a Ph.D. program last year at a traditional B & M university. Unrelated to my PhD effort, I'd finished an MS in Manhattan with a graduation date of 12/01. After the WTC attack, the job market fell apart (plan was to stay and work in NYC) so I went into doctoral studies as an after thought.

    Some medical issues aggravated this effort and I could handle the courses, but ultimately, could not tolerate the bureaucratic environment of academia. As an aggressive business manager in the private sector for 15 years, I simply could not trust my future to what I perceived to be profoundly incompetent, self-serving, hopelessly entrenched bureaucrats operating from a basis of minimization and lacking any accountability. It was just mind boggling and a constant source of frustration.

    My grades were fine, but I elected to bag the program and get back to work. I'm 43 now and do want a Ph.D. so I can retire at 55 into a full-time position at a small, 4-year college.

    I’ve already applied and will decide between Nova and Northcentral for a February 2005 start. I’m doing one course at a time and planning on a 5 year effort at half speed. If I do Northcentral (100% online), the physical discconect will be the biggest challenge.
  15. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Re: Another pitiful tale

    Veddy Veddy interesting. :eek:

    My little brother is a B&M professor and he has never held a real job (I wouldn't say that to his face though because I wouldn't want to insult him), but from high school, he went directly to college until he completed his doctoral program and then got hired into a state university system. Without life experience, he now teaches other in the fields of business and education. It always perplexed me how someone who has never been in the business world and the educational world -- can teach others about those two worlds. :eek:

    Granted, he is exceptionally intelligent, far more than I. I'll never forget one occasion that demonstrated his academic intelligence. I took a class called quantatitive methods and I worked on a problem for over two weeks, but was unable to arrive with a solution. I emailed him, expecting a responce in a couple of weeks. Instead, he returned the email, with a correct answer, in two hours. What I could not do in two weeks, he was able to do immediately. Brain power!!! LOL :D
  16. Messagewriter

    Messagewriter New Member

    veddy interesting

    Great story but off my point because I may have not been clear. The incompetence I'm referring to is in the business of education. In the private sector, the customer is the focus. For them, they focus on themselves. This is buerocaracy 101- nothing new here. The issue is that most students, becasue they are young and inexperenced, don't know the difference thus folks like your brother simply perpetuate the model that academics operate under.

    Academics will never change, so public policy simply must continue to starve them financial resources and simply reward behavior based on accountable objectives. This is why I like Bush's approach. Accountability, being measured and compared, horrify those whos mentality is to milk the system and due the least possible. Academics feel that their behavior is justified because they are systematically underpaid. If you paid them a million a year, they would not change. The reason they are the way they are is that they can be incompetent and keep their job, which makes me no fan of the institution of tenure, which thankfully is falling by the wayside.

    Their incompetence as managers of resources does not diminish their intellect, however. In many cases becasue they are so smart, their strategy to overcome change is just that much harder to combat from the perspectve of those expecting more from a medeocre educational system relative to the world.
  17. Alex

    Alex New Member

    Re: Me again comments

    Actually, I think in many fields you'll find the typical starting salaries for assistant professors to be under $50,000. Even many full-time faculty with many years on the job earn less than this.


  18. Alex

    Alex New Member

    Re: Another pitiful tale

    It may vary according to the field, but be aware that full-time faculty positions require a full-time commitment. Many people take on a second career after retiring from one, and teaching may be a good second career for you. Just keep in mind that it will probably not be a hobbyist position, in which you work a few hours a week in exchange for a generous salary. New faculty must work very long hours to achieve tenure (or to get year-to-year contracts renewed). It will probably not be a relaxing experience. Small, four-year colleges can be just as competitive as larger research universities.

    You haven't stated that you expected university teaching to be a cushy post-retirement gig, but many people on the outside of academia do think it must be a relaxing job. I think a lot of people just look at the hours spent standing in front of a class, never realizing that this is a fraction of the time a full-time faculty member spends at work.


  19. Alex

    Alex New Member

    Re: Re: Another pitiful tale

    Many of us who've served time in academia would argue that university teaching is a very real job. The job involves many aspects (teaching, research, service of various sorts). Competition is cut-throat, and you must continually be accountable for your performance (tenure portfolios, post-tenure reviews, annual performance reviews, etc).

    I know you're being tongue-in-cheek, but so many people don't realize the true nature of academia.


  20. Messagewriter

    Messagewriter New Member

    Alex's comments

    I realize academia is a lot of work and appreciate and agree with your comments. Most of the young assistant professors that I met were banging out 70 hour weeks with an excessvie teaching load, the burden of publication for tenure and excessive committee assignments from the chair. It almost appeared to me that they were being hazed a little bit.

    Granted, it's a bunch of work. I want to find a place where I can do a 60% teaching load with a non-tenure track employment agreement. Tenure is for the birds. If they don't like my work, I'm gone. I'll take a decent employment contract any day.

Share This Page