Why 4 rounds? Rhyme, I know you applied last year, what was your feeling on the process specific to Cornell?
I'm not Rhyme, but Cornell admitted me with more money than rhyme, so I'm gonna go ahead.
I don't know why they have 4 rounds, but here's how it seems to break out:
Rounds 1 & 2 are akin to the R1 of your regular 3-round school.
Round 3 is like the other schools' R2.
R4 = R3.
Cornell's R3 still has all of the same scholarship opportunities. As far as the competitiveness of the various rounds, R4 is obviously the hardest, as the final round seems to be for all schools. And there's no money involved; why bother?
I asked a few students about R1 vs R2 vs R3 in terms of competition. One guy said that R2 and R3 are essentially the same. I wasn't anywhere near the application stage in R1, so I didn't even bother to ask.
that's my take. Not overly helpful, but it seems that few schools really share much about the relative competitiveness of each round. They all prefer to say, "submit your app when it's ready."