Sorry to hear about the dings. It's hard to say exactly what happened, although my hunch is that you screwed up the application - the interviews and the essays just weren't up to snuff, and you were getting the interviews mostly on the strength of your raw profile.
As for growth, the more the better, but if there isn't much going on, don't let that stop you from reapplying. What you can control is how well you execute the application. Based on your list of schools, you should be able to get into at least one of them if your applications are well executed and your interviews are strong.
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