The graduate school years are the best of times and the worst of times. Scientists often look back at these years as a period when they could finally focus on their favorite subject. Yet graduate school in a life science requires such time-consuming and intense research efforts that life can include little else. This can create difficulties for students over age 30, who are more likely than their younger counterparts to have families.

FAMILY TIES: Elizabeth Luna, who has mentored older Ph.D. students, notes that having children creates extra demands on one's time.
Older graduate students say that while experience in life and the workplace brings certain advantages to handling graduate school, responsibilities can intervene. "Different family circumstances can cause additional demands on graduate students. Most graduate students, for instance, don't have to schlep kids to soccer practice," observes Elizabeth J. Luna, 45, a senior scientist at the Worcester Foundation...

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