How old is too old for training?

Discuss applications to the clearing house (and to courses that are not in the clearing house system), screening assessments, interviews, reserve lists, places, etc. here
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How old is too old for training?

Post by Heslop » Fri May 12, 2017 8:31 pm

I am 38 years old and applied for the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology this year, for the first time.

I have been developing an interest in psychology over the last 12 years and an interest in clinical psychology over the last three years. I completed a coversion course in psychology in 2015 and have been working for just over a year as a peer recovery worker in a mental health short break service.

I had two interviews (Plymouth and Lancaster) and have now received outright rejections from both universities. I am worrried that I am getting too old to keep applying. At what point is one too old to train as a clinical psychologist? Could I go on applying into my fourties? Should I stop when I reach 50 years old?
Last edited by Heslop on Fri May 12, 2017 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How old is too old for training?

Post by Roz93 » Fri May 12, 2017 9:40 pm

Hi Heslop,

There is no 'maximum age' at which you can apply! From what I've read on here, it usually takes multiple years (at multiple uni's) to get an acceptance, and you'll only become a more attractive candidate as you gain more experience in the field.

That said, if you're looking for statistics, 30-50 year olds entering training over the last few years are as follows:
2015: 24% of applicant base, received 18% of places
2014: 24% of applicant base, received 19% of places
2013: 23% of applicant base, received 17% of places

These figures aren't too dissimilar across ages, with the exception of 25-29 year olds, who seem to be continually more likely to receive a place (this could be due to their interview style, their institution choice or a number of other factors).

Also worth noting that this data doesn't show us how many institutions the applicants applied to - it could be one but it could equally be four! This could skew the data quite significantly.

All in all, please don't be discouraged, or feel like you have to give upon your dream because you haven't been successful this year. I'm sure you'll make a great Clinical Psychologist one day, if you decide to follow through. Good luck :D
"Imagine others complexly" - John Green.

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Re: How old is too old for training?

Post by Carla » Sat May 13, 2017 6:22 am

Hi Heslop

You have tempted me to make my first post on this site :D I was also a little concerned about age because I came to psychology a little later (ok a lot later) in life than most, retraining after MANY years in other areas :oops: . My personal opinion is that, in my case, age has been nothing but a benefit to both my studies and my outlook because life has taught me as many (if not more) valuable lessons as the modules I have completed.

I am 47, a first time applicant and I have been fortunate enough to be offered a place at my first choice course. :D :D :D

The statistics show I am likely to be the eldest on my course by a considerable number of years and yet as my age isn't a major player in my own self-identity I don't foresee it being an issue (for me anyway, it might be interesting to gain some feedback from my fellow cohort going forward :wink: ). Personally the only important thing has been to keep moving forward, so I feel that even if I hadn't been successful this year I would have applied again. Its only ever too late if you stop :lol:

Whatever you choose to do next I wish you well and hope my experience might add something to your evaluation of the situation.

Carla :)
Last edited by Carla on Sat May 13, 2017 8:25 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: How old is too old for training?

Post by icebluesparkles » Sat May 13, 2017 8:03 am

I have a friend who has been offered a place this year who is 48 so it is definitely possible to get into CP later in life. I have also seen other people post in the past about getting onto training in their late 40s. I also heard that there was someone in their early 50s on one course.

So, Heslop at 38 I doubt very much you are too old. I am sorry you feel that this year didn't go well but it is probably the exception rather than the norm to get on on the first time of applying. You did really well to get interviews and hopefully you will be able to get some helpful feedback.

I think if you have been aiming for CP since you are a teenager/early 20s, there may be a point where it seems odd to keep continuing (although not necessarily - perhaps some people do focus hard on it in their earlier years and take a break to come back later in life...) My sense is that most people coming in later in life will be career changers rather than people who have doggedly just kept trying to get on so to speak.

Obviously courses are not meant to discriminate on the basis of age but I am not sure whether that happens or not. My friend who has got on at 48 did have an experience last year with a course that gives written and scored feedback whereby she scored higher than at least 2 people who's feedback she saw yet didn't get offered a place (and that was at a course that is meant to have a very open and critical perspective). Of course they may have been some other reason but it did seem odd.

Like most things there are pros and cons to applying as an older applicant. Certainly there is the scope to bring some perhaps different perspectives to training and practice/break the stereotypes of the typical trainee CP. There are also disadvantages obviously - I know my processing speeds are not what they were in my 20s! I also heard Bath were considering reviewing the emphasis they put on A levels in their selection process because they recognised that average grades have increased significantly in the last 20 years therefore putting those who did A levels/degrees some years ago at a disadvantage

I would be interested to hear about how any older (maybe over 40) trainees have found fitting into a cohort - also how younger trainees feel about having older trainees (possibly their parents age!) in their cohort. I have not applied this year and may take another route but am thinking of applying next year even though I am in my mid 40s.

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Re: How old is too old for training?

Post by Heslop » Sun May 14, 2017 3:50 pm

Thanks for the responses folks. I will try again next year, and if I don't get a place, I will try again the following year, and if I still don't get a place, I will give up on clinical psychology and train dogs instead.

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Re: How old is too old for training?

Post by DanJJJJJJ » Tue May 16, 2017 3:58 pm

Hey Helop,

I am 38 as well. On reserve list for Salomons having got a couple of interviews. First time applying here as well. My belief is that age is only a factor if your thoughts and beliefs about this MAKE it a factor. Loads of people retrain or find a new profession in their late 30's and 40's so why should this be any different?

Too many people IMO are rushing out of uni NEEDING to be a CP and their whole life focus is getting onto the ClinPsy as young as possible. Well, fair play to them but that's not how our lives have panned out and not how I would have wanted mine too. I want to do this now so I am going for it. If I don't get on a course I'll get on with my life anyway. Anyway, don't let someone else tell you that you are too old, only you can decide that ;)

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Re: How old is too old for training?

Post by endedupageek » Wed May 17, 2017 9:46 pm

I am 44, in my first year of training and not the oldest person on my course :-).

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Re: How old is too old for training?

Post by Bon » Fri May 26, 2017 3:56 pm

I am 46 and this was my first year of applying. I was lucky enough to get on to a course, which I am still slightly stunned about. I was not expecting to get on this year and would have kept on applying for 2/3 more years had I not. I currently work as an assistant psych and in our department the average years it took the qualified's to get on to a course was 3. Hope that helps Heslop :)

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Re: How old is too old for training?

Post by Inschp » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:07 pm

Also encouraged to post here as this has also been a familiar dilemma for me :D I am 45 and this was my 3rd year applying and I've had an offer for a place.

I didn't attend university in my 20's I was 34 before I started my undergraduate degree. Originally joint honours with psychology as the interest subject but soon changed to a straight osychology degree. I went on to complete a PhD and worked in the NHS on a commercial drug study as a postdoc. I was encouraged by my colleagues to consider applying for clinical training which I did first in 2015, I secured interview but no offer. In 2016 I secured 2 interviews and was on reserve list for a place but there was no offer. After this in 2016 I also applied for caap training but was not selected for interview for either the primary care or CAHMS course, I almost gave up after that and even started to look for work out with the NHS but decided that was knee jerk reaction and I would give it one last shot.

I applied to Edinburgh again this year and was fortunate enough to be offered a place this time. Third time lucky but also so much more ready than I would of been had I been successful first time. Don't let your age put you off I'm glad I had another go and the experience I've gained in the years I was unsuccessful has allowed me to meet some lovely people and learn from them. Best of luck in the future.

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Re: How old is too old for training?

Post by CurlyHair » Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:09 pm

Reading this is great! I am currently a second year and am 40 and am the oldest in my cohort, reassuring to see us non-traditional and older peeps getting places :D

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Re: How old is too old for training?

Post by tmh » Thu Jun 15, 2017 11:59 pm

I started last October when I was 46. It was my first application. I think a mixture of ages is a good thing in a course but I don't think my age gives me any greater advantage as the whole cohort, whatever their age, bring something unique.

I came from a health and social work background but only completed my undergraduate degree in psychology through the OU in the previous October.

I would really recommend older people to apply, particularly if they are coming from a health or social care background.

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Re: How old is too old for training?

Post by gazdavies » Sat Sep 02, 2017 2:11 am

As per TMH's post above, also from health and social care background. Commence training next month and will shortly be 36. The life experience I have now from all that time between original undergrad and eventually coming back to this and deciding it was what I should do with my life has completely changed everything. Without that time and that growth and that experience I wouldn't be where I am doing what I am. I'm tempted to say it's never too late. I was inspired in high school by an A-Level teacher. She change career to teaching as a mature student in her mid 50's as a mature student because she'd always wanted to and never had taught. She worked until early retirement through ill health which can only have been 8 or 9 years, but during that time she inspired me and put me on this path and changed my life and outlook. I talked to her earlier on today and she told me how proud she was (20 years later, while her grandchildren were playing on the beach and force-feeding her icecream!). It's never too late. Go for it!

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Re: How old is too old for training?

Post by Spatch » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:54 am

With demographic and population changes, it's likely that we are all going to be working into our 70s, so I think age will become less of a factor as time goes on.

However, what I do think will be increasingly important is the skillset you bring in the prevailing economic and political climate. In my opinion, I think anyone with sound managerial experience, proven ability to secure funding, operate strategically and innovate will be increasingly valued than the more traditional bright/mobile/ undergrad-> AP->Clinical training candidates we have typically fostered. I am currently shortlisting for qualifieds, and I quite frankly don't care if someone has a high 2:1, but am more interested in how they are as an asset to my service beyond their therapy skills.
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Irrelevant Experience: The Secret Diary of an Assistant Psychologist is available at Amazon ... 00EQFE5JW/

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Re: How old is too old for training?

Post by sparkling » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:54 pm

Really interesting Spatch. I'm 36 and starting this year. It was my fourth year applying and I quit my job as a lawyer in 2010 to start the whole psychology conversion/experience/application trials. I had several reserve list places and this year finally got on. After 3 year out on maternity leave having two kids. The year I least thought I would get on. And perhaps I'm wrong but I did see a lot of what Spatch said focussed on by my course during the application process/interview/after. I guess I may say this but I think my past experiences (both personal and professional) really helped me. Obviously you need to be able to convey and apply your experiences well, and I'm not saying you need to have these to get a place. But from my limited experience the courses are definitely pushing to recognise management and training skills etc from the start x

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Post by Toscapuss » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:48 pm

I'm 47 and applying for my third time... Got an interview last year but think my nerves got the better of me...

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