Academics Anonymous: ‘Why are you doing a PhD at your age?’

I’m concerned that my age will render my PhD worthless, at least as a passport to an academic career

• Studying for a humanities PhD can make you feel cut off from humanity

At virtually every conference I’ve attended as a doctoral candidate, I’ve noticed a similar reaction whenever I strike up a conversation with my fellow students. They exude a faint, but perceptible air of deference.

Sadly, this is not in recognition of my academic brilliance, but my greying hair and crow’s feet, which tacitly suggest that I am more qualified and experienced than I actually am. You may be as young as you feel, but sadly, initial impressions tend to be based on how old you look.

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