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Question about applying for NSF GRFP second time around


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Hey everyone,

I'm a second year grad student in neuroscience. I applied for the NSF GRFP last year and didn't get it and I plan to apply again this year. My question is as follows: I really like my essays from last year, and ideally I wouldn't want to change them very much, other than modifying them slightly to reflect how my graduate work has progressed over the first year (including achievements, etc.). For the research proposal essay I would still like to use the same proposal, and add a tiny bit about how I have already been working in the direction of that proposal. For last year's application, I got all  good to excellent marks from whoever reviewed my application, so based on that feedback it seems like I just need to make it a bit better in order to serve a good chance at getting the fellowship (and I think adding my 1st year achievements and research might do the job). So, my question is: will reusing the majority of my essays from last year hurt my chances in any way? Tied into this question: I imagine a new set of reviewers will be assigned to read my essay; will they have any access to my essays from last year? I imagine that if they don't have any access to my last year's application, then my plan above would work just fine.... What do you guys think? 

Thanks in advance!

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I don't think you will be penalized for reusing most of the material from your previous essay. Many of my friends who got the GRFP the second time around submitted only small modifications on their essays. 

However, I believe the scale is good, very good, excellent, so a "good" score means there could be a more work needed into getting a funded application. At some point though, a lot of the score is going to be subjective and it is hard to know why you got a certain score. So I wouldn't worry about it too much, but just a warning to still keep an open mind about rewriting a big chunk of your essays if that is what is necessary to improve it. I would encourage you to get feedback on your essays from as many people as possible. In my department, people are generally very helpful and your faculty, postdocs and senior grad students will be glad to review them for us.

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