I applied for a bunch of direct PhD programs in my senior year (of undergrad) to start right after my undergrad. For two of my top choices, I was shortlisted for interview but rejected off the interview. I'm thinking of reapplying this year, but I could also reapply next year with a better application profile, and I'm worried if I apply this year and get rejected again, then my application for next year will not receive a full and fair consideration.
I'm doing a 1-year MSc this year, which covers the subfields I missed on in my undergrad very well. By doing this, I'm actually addressing the main reason I was rejected for one of those two, and trying to turn that weakness into a strength. So, if I get invited for interview again, I think I'll have a much better chance. but I'm worried they may not invite me to interview this year, given that they did that last year and were not happy with my performance.
Since my interviews were held near the end of my senior year and the application deadlines will be before the end of the first semester of my Masters program, I think my application profile is not going to look much different (and in fact, since my GPA went down in my final semester, I think it may actually look worse).
However, if I wait until next year, by the time I am going to apply for those programs, I'll have completed my MSc with the grades on my transcript, two research projects I worked on this year and last year may finally be submitted for publication. So I might have publications (as the nth coauthor though) to list on my CV, and I will probably start a new (and hopefully more serious) research project at the end of this year. So I will have more research experience as well (this last one will probably be in very early stages though). On the other hand, next year itself, would be probably a much less (academically) productive year for me, compared to the scenario that I apply this year, get admitted, and start my PhD there next year.
Ideally, I'd like to try my chance this year, and if I don't get in, try it next year. But I'm afraid given I was rejected last year, if I get rejected this year again, they may be very skeptical of my application next year and feel like reviewing my application and giving me a third chance is going to be a waste of time, so they don't give a full and fair consideration to my application for the third time.
Could that be the case, or am I overthinking it?