I'm 34. I received a degree in computer in 2008 and have been running a business ever since. Recently, I decided to apply for a postgraduate program in healthcare in January. To show that I was interested in health care, I completed a one year certificate course in a related field last year. A few days after I had submitted my application form and two strong recommendations, they arranged an interview for me.

The interviewers were friendly at first, and the questions were not very tough. I was feeling confident until the senior interviewer (Prof. Joe) suddenly asked me if I wanted to become a nurse. I said yes. He smiled but then told me that all successful applicants last year were twenty something (at least 12 years younger than me.) I was taken aback by his comment. Was that a negative connotation?

Edited to add:

  1. I had read the professional recognition information on their web. The programme is accreditated by the nursing council and graduates are eligible to apply for registration as nurse, so I could not understand why he asked if I wanted to become a nurse.

  2. The certificate course tutor had told us about the average age of nurse population.

  • 4
    The average age for medical school is 28. I remember meeting people in their late 30s back when I was a prospect. That professor may have been biased, but my experience tells me that most people won't judge like that.
    – Compass
    Feb 23, 2015 at 23:57
  • 13
    Perhaps he was seeing how you responded - when you started the course, and found that everyone was 12 years younger, were you going to be shocked and leave? Feb 24, 2015 at 0:43
  • 3
    Flagged to close. Your question seems to be if the average age remark was a negative comment on your application. Given the lack of detail and the fact no one on the internet was part of the interview I doubt we can arrive at a useful answer here.
    – Lilienthal
    Feb 24, 2015 at 11:13
  • 3
    Age discrimination is almost everywhere.
    – kitty
    Feb 24, 2015 at 11:49
  • How come a man in his mid thirties would have been considered very old? Did you ever think of his age? I would definitely ask how old he was when he completed his PhD and got employed as professor in your prospective school. Some teachers are very nice but some are not. The man Joe might coy about his age. You should feel confident, pride whatever, coz your boss of a business company. I believe that discrimination is almost everywhere, especially at workplace, but who will care when You've got to be more positive about your work.
    – kitty
    Feb 25, 2015 at 9:34

3 Answers 3


This is by no mean to be a controversial answer, just how I usually would deal with this situation if I found myself in a seemingly disadvantaged situation. Basically, I agree with one of the comments that perhaps the interviewer was trying to see how you'd respond.

If we know that we are different from the rest in any way, be it much older, younger, taller, shorter, of a particular race, ethnicity or upbringing, do try some soul searching and elaborate what it truly means and how it truly can benefit you, the peers, and the organization. Time to time I found people (myself included sometimes) set off the discrimination alarm a bit too prematurely and close up or just being stunned. Instead, We all would benefit from taking a serious look on what we might get discriminated at, and up-play that property if a chance comes by.

For example, in OP's situation, I'd suggest gearing the discussion to elaborate what packing extra 12 years of business experience can bring to the table. You may be more worldly, more sensitive to customer's (aka patient's) needs, more mature, etc. Then, proceed to talk about perhaps one general stereotype for being a more mature when entering a job... e.g. you'll lose 12 years of pay grade compared to your peers, how would you feel about that? Most of your future peer in the same rank with you will be a few generations younger, how successful have you been working with younger folks? Proceed to debunk them, and casually say that you wish this year there will be a successful candidate in his 30s.

These are all just suggestions; I feel it's important to show that a candidate has thought about the situation thoroughly, and be able to dissolve an apparent unfriendly remark with grace. And this is probably important for nurses as well: impatient, angry, and suffering patients (and their family members) can say something a lot worse.

Don't get too bogged down by those mean age statistics. If you truly feel you've found your calling, give it the best you can. Best of luck!

  • 2
    @DavidWashington, you're welcome! Wish you many successful interviews to come. :) Feb 24, 2015 at 13:31

Are you sure you're not reading too much into this? It seems to me like all he was doing was quoting a stat. More often than not, it's industry and not an academic field, that tends to discriminate (sometimes without even realizing it!) based on age. I have to agree with one of the responders though that the professor was treading on thin ice, and in retrospect, he probably wishes he hadn't!

  • 3
    Yes, tone and context are very important here. It could have been "oh cool, everyone last year was young, it's nice to have that change", or it could have been "oh no, everyone last year was young, too bad for you". Without that crucial information it's difficult to say whether this means anything at all. Feb 24, 2015 at 7:56

I think the faculty member who mentioned this is treading on very thin ice. Age should not play a role in US admissions processes (nor in the admissions processes in most other countries. The statement that only candidates in their twenties were being admitted could potentially get the school into trouble if that's done intentionally.

  • 5
    The key phrase is "US admission process". In France and India I have been asked my age and have been told explicitly that younger candidates would be favored. Now I am not sure if these people were just being prejudiced or if that is a rule, but it happened. Of course, my control group of experience is small (<3 institutions in each country) so this could perhaps happen in any country.
    – dearN
    Feb 24, 2015 at 7:29

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