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Author Topic: Am I too old to begin a career in academia?  (Read 3145 times)

Offline DWAEDGIMORIGUKBAP

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Am I too old to begin a career in academia?
« on: October 10, 2011, 07:43:03 AM »
Have recently been taking some time to think about choosing a career finally (have been teaching esl in South Korea for 7 years) and am thinking of doing an MA in film next year (my BA was in Drama, Theatre and Television Studies, but I was mainly just a film fanatic and still am.) 

So I am thinking of doing an MA and then if I can get help with funding; working on a phd and working up to getting a lectureship. Back in 2005 I had an interview for a film MA and the prof said if I completed the MA, I could quite likely get a scholarship and some pt teaching whilst I worked through the p.h.d, but in the end I felt I wasn't ready for that at that time and came back to Korea instead.  But he was very enthusiastic about me on a personal level and all of my lecturers at uni said I would do well in that sort of field.   Anyway, I know university funding is all different now and I need to look into how it all works now (I'll have enough money to pay for my ma outright with an oct 2012 or jan 2013 start, if I can find a place on a course.)

But even if I can work it financially, do you think, in all honestly, it is feasable that I could begin an academic career at the age of 36, it having been 10 yrs since I finished my ba and having had zero academic experience since then?
 
I mean I'm very passionate about films and have a lot of knowledge on the subject and am knowledgeable about cinema from all over the world, all genres and time periods etc, as well as still having rememberance about various theory and the language of it, but I'm not sure if people can enter into acedemia so late into their lives.

I've also thought of doing a practical film-making MA course as I would love to be involved in making films, but don't feel I have the right constitution and character to try and work in the industry in a technical or creative capacity as I'm not an extravert and don't always work well with others.  I was very good at uni when we made shorts and docus and some of the tech guys who worked in the studio and had worked in tv in film all their lives used to say I was very promising, and I was a very good editor.  After saving a film student friend's thesis film in the editing room (lots of poor shots, bad continuity and her ending didn't work, but I fixed all that) one whom had directed some b-horror movies and famous docus told her "Dwaedgi must try to go into the film industry,' apparently.  I am also a decent writer and have lots of creative ideas, but I like stability and security also and it's a tough enough field in any country, let alone the tiny little sell out to hollywood and job protectionist industry in the UK.
 
A second question then, would be; if I decided my heart is really in trying to work in film-making and I completed a practical filmaking course but then decided I couldn't handle working in that industry and would be more suited to academia - would a practical filmaking MA qualify me to go in that direction? I'm thinking probably not and that one would need to do an academic course if one wanted to go that route, but am not sure.
 
Anyway, I guess the main question is - am I too old to start an academic career?
« Last Edit: October 10, 2011, 11:07:52 AM by DWAEDGIMORIGUKBAP »

Offline jaakked1

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Re: Am I too old to begin a career in academia in the UK?
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2011, 08:00:46 AM »
If you think you are too old then:Yes. If you don't think your too old then:No.
At 36 your not really very old at all.In fact I know MANY people that would say that you are young.Lighten up.                                                               

Offline Cereal

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Re: Am I too old to begin a career in academia in the UK?
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2011, 09:19:42 AM »
Go for it "D". I got my BA at 47 and would like to start an M.Ed. next year, and I'll be 51.

There was one person older than me in my class at university and several in their mid 30's. The professors enjoyed having more experienced learners because we brought different perspectives to the discussions.

I think it's a cool idea.
"The urge to destroy is also a creative urge."
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Offline DWAEDGIMORIGUKBAP

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Re: Am I too old to begin a career in academia in the UK?
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2011, 10:41:40 AM »
If you think you are too old then:Yes. If you don't think your too old then:No.
At 36 your not really very old at all.In fact I know MANY people that would say that you are young.Lighten up.                                                               

Well along the lines of one of the quotes in my signiature - I believe I could do it personally.

But what I really mean is - would someone in my position be realistically considered for an academic career by those in academia, or have I missed the boat?  I suppose the MA gets you up to date with current theory etc and thus would be a suitable primer for a phd and eventualy univerity lecturing position?  I'd just kind of like to hear from people in the know, or with experience in the field.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2011, 11:09:01 AM by DWAEDGIMORIGUKBAP »

Offline Sara

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Re: Am I too old to begin a career in academia in the UK?
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2011, 11:07:02 AM »
Also - moderators, if I remove the 'UK' from my post title and just make it generic to begining an academic career at my age - could it be placed back in a forum where it would get more of a look-in?  As it is, it's only going to attract viewers whom are looking at Europe as a travel destination and I really feel it doesn't belong there, is very much more of a gen discussion topic as pertains to esl teachers here in sk looking towards their post korea lives etc.

Moved back  ;D

Offline Jozigirl

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Re: Am I too old to begin a career in academia?
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2011, 11:46:58 AM »
When I first started working at a university, my immediate supervisor was a woman in her early 40s who had been working at the university for 6 months.  She had only just started her Masters program - we were actually in class together - and had finished her BA about four years prior to that.  She had a little bit of informal/substitute teaching experience prior to the university position but that was about it.  The condition was that she would complete her MA within 5 years of signing her contract and, until she did so, she could not supervise dissertations or theses for postgraduate students.  She was also only allowed to teach first year classes for the first 3 years. 

I don't think you're too old to start at 36 but it will depend on the university.  I'm 30 and when I started feeling out university jobs in the UK last year, the general advice was to 'get some life experience' because I'd spent all of my 20s studying.  The department head at one university literally told me to come back in mid- to late 30s.  A friend of mine also only started her career in academia in her early 30s - she was given a full-time position at my university (the department head had told me he specifically wanted me to apply for the full-time post)  even though I already had my Masters degree at that stage and she was only about to register for hers.  In the end, the interview committee felt that a thirty-something was a better candidate than a 25 year old.  I'd say you're probably a good age to start a career in academia. 
« Last Edit: October 10, 2011, 11:50:11 AM by sasez »

Offline bb

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Re: Am I too old to begin a career in academia?
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2011, 12:11:49 PM »
I think OP's question is a very reasonable one. The gut reaction to this question is usually a "you're never too old. Go for it." type o' answer and there are many people who succeeded along acedemic lines later in life. That said, being in a similar boat myself (41_contemplating a masters degree in the next year or so)...it isn't self defeating to do an objective risk-benefit analysis.  The issues I've been turning over in my mind....1. Age does matter, it does play into hiring processes etc. But...this is not a huge deal breaker, especially as...at 36 you may be a little on the older side but not "old" per se. But, issue number 2 for me is a bigger deal: That being, at 20, 25 I could afford a failure or two. I majored in an artistic field on the hope I could make a living doing what I loved...it didn't pan out but...as a young man it was no problem, I dusted myself off, got into other fields, have been very happy and reasonably prosperous since. But... at 41, should extended education not pan out as planned, suddenly I am a middle aged guy with more debt, un or under-employed, etc scrambling to put together a retirement savings from way behind the start line. My margin for error is smaller and that's not self defeating, just realistic. On the other hand...I'm gonna get older with or without a masters degree, so, might as well pursue what I care about, right? Tough descision. OP and don't let anyone browbeat you into minimizing the issues involved. Good luck with whatever you choose to do.

Offline MissC

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Re: Am I too old to begin a career in academia?
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2011, 12:53:17 PM »
I imagine a film studies professor would be overjoyed to have a student in the classroom who remembers when the pivotal (and not-so-pivotal) films first came out. I mean, it's got to be annoying teaching a bunch of kids who weren't around for the original Star Wars films.

And for what it's worth, my mom got her ma and phd (in a field unrelated to her major) in her 40s. She's now the head of her department. Granted, she doesn't teach at Harvard or Yale, but tenure is tenure.