The Age Conundrum

By Rupika Gulati

There are many reasons to do your PhD. You’re contributing to a new area of research, answering an age-old question or just simply you want to develop yourself and research skills further. It’s an exciting time in your life, conducting new research and doing what you really want to do.

However, one of the things that a few PhD candidates can experience is… “Am I too old to do this?” or “I’ll be X years old when I finish” amongst other questions surrounding this topic. Even myself, when I was applying and after I received my offer, I kept thinking of both these questions. Someone even asked me these questions and it got me seriously thinking. It’s a conundrum that’s not always talked about and can often instil a sense of fear. Or at least it did for me.

“You’re scared to take a 4-year course because you’re 32 and by the time you’re done, you’d be 36. Whether you take the course or not, in 4 years’ time you’d still be 36.”


In an attempt to tackle these fears, sometime before enrolling for my PhD I came across this post which almost bought a sense of calm and realisation to myself.  

This is a post I had seen many a times and never really thought about it. It was not until I was faced with the same conundrum that I realised; age should not be attached to the achievements I want to attain. Rather they should be a driver to do things we love, as we will reach those ages regardless of whether we make those jumps or not. So why not make the jump?

Does everyone go through this? Well, I can’t assume for everyone, but it is probably a thought that has creeped up on many people. If you find yourself worrying, just remember one thing. We all get old – you might as well make a journey of it!

If you’re a mature student at Warwick, there is plenty of support available. The Students’ Union has an elected Part-Time and Mature Students Officer and there is more information from Wellbeing Support Services.

Want to hear more experiences from mature students? Why not check out ‘Going Back to the Laboratory Bench at 64’ or ‘There’s a New King in Town.’ If you want to look at all the things we talk about at PhD Life, check out our Contents page. What are your go to quotes for supporting you through your PhD? Let us know by leaving a comment below, tweeting us @ResearchEx or emailing

By Rupika Gulati

Rupika am a first year ICase PhD student based in WMG and the Medical school at the university of Warwick. In their project, Rupika is looking at the assessment and development of antimicrobial coatings for indoor use. The project is interdisciplinary and even involves working with an industry partner which is very rewarding and challenging. In my spare time Rupika loves reading and crocheting. She also love to meet new people and is always up for a chat.

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