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?

  • You seem to be asking for opinions. They will vary and are unlikely to be valid for you. Maybe it would be good to focus on your current studies and do well there. – Buffy Aug 22 '18 at 22:45
  • @Buffy Yes, I understand there may not be one definitive answer. I'd like to hear what people who have been on the other side of this application process think, and hear different possible reactions. Do professors get annoyed if they receive an application for the third year in a row and just ignore it, or do they review the application independent of the application history of the applicant? – D. V. Aug 22 '18 at 22:49
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    You are asking people to evaluate a lot of things that only you can properly evaluate and asking people to predict how others, of various views, will evaluate you if you apply. Only you and your actual reviewers can provide anything meaningful. This is why opinion based questions are liable to be closed here. The Help Center for this site has more suggestions about questions. academia.stackexchange.com/help – Buffy Aug 22 '18 at 22:58
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    It is hard to say. I don't think it fair to judge you, but you seem to be confused now. It would be good if you could find a way to unconfused yourself. That is why my first suggestion was to focus on current studies and do well there. That is a positive, forward looking step that can only help your situation and the focus will help the confusion go away (I hope). So, I suggest focus. The confusion you express doesn't help you ask a good question, I think. – Buffy Aug 22 '18 at 23:12
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    However, if multiple applications to a place is discouraged, only they can tell you that and you can ask. But that will differ not only by country and institution, but also by individual professor. – Buffy Aug 22 '18 at 23:14