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I experienced something similar with a different school. One of my recommenders couldn't submit his recommendation because an earthquake last year off the coast of Taiwan disrupted internet service between China and the US. The school said that my recommender could just email it in. Once it was there, I confirmed by phone that it was be added to my application package.
As time passed by, I wasn't called for an interview and I thought I was dinged. Then, on decision day I logged in to check my result and got nothing. I called in to find that they handn't reviewed my application for this round (R2) because it wasn't complete. I rehashed the details and they offered to consider it for R3. I wanted to decide on a school before R3 decisions so I told them no thanks. My fee was not refunded (I didn't ask) and the time I spent preparing that application was a total waste.
Not sure what you can demand at this point. If it was clearly their error, ask them to consider you for this year; or that your application be considered for next year. If you try to force them to do anything, they might just go ahead and ding you.
Just a quick question, do these schools have no web status thing where you can see if your application is "complete"? I've read that many schools in the top 25 have a website you can check to see if everything in your application is complete.
Some schools have a status page that keeps you updated each step of the way (Columbia comes to mind), and some don't. Some places welcome student contact (Darden is a good example) while other schools don't want any contact at all.
In my situation, I needed someone to manually add my recommendation to my file, because it was not submitted during the normal process (because of the earthquake). The online status never updated, but I was told by someone in the admissions office that everything was all set. I had a similar situation at another school (my rec was affected for all applications) and while the status page never update, they assured me that my application was complete and they rendered a decision at the appropriate time. I believe that my problem was the screw-up of a single person; but what sucked was that the school didn't take responsibility for the mistake and review my application ASAP once the error came to light. There was no reason for them to make me wait until the next round.
No matter how careful or how meticulous you are about getting everything submitted, schools WILL make mistakes. They're usually understaffed and it seems like everyone encounters missing documents or other mistakes on the school's part. It sucks, because there's no fair remedy in situations like yours.
I had a similar situation where a school I applied to didn't deliver my decision by the notificaiton deadline. I called then to see what the deal was -- turns out my interviewer had my application sitting on his desk, he had forgotten to return it to the ad-coms after my interview. Total screw-up.
Just to play devil's advocate though, and since I don't know your profile, I could be WAY off, so I apologize in advance.
You submitted your application in the 3rd round, near the very end, right? Usually they say the chances of getting in during the last round are slim, unless you have some super unique background. From your last name, I'm guessing you're Indian, maybe IT? I'm thinking the dean looked over your application and made a decision that quickly because:
1. They already filled up their class entirely
2. Third round they only have a few spots
3. You didn't have the minority or unique background that they are looking for in the 3rd round
Of course, I still don't agree with the way they treated your application, as it was very irresponsible. But I think your rejection might not be only because of their negligence.
I didn't mean to offend or criticize, just trying to shed more light onto this issue.
nupurgupt, Yes, I fully agree with you. The school should have owned up to their mistake and compensated you somehow. That was the part I also found them very irresponsible. I'm glad you can see past the rejection and were only talking about the unprofessionalism of their admit process in regards to your application.
I'm really sorry to hear about this story, and I hope it hasn't dented your desire to apply again this year! =)
Check out this awesome article about Anderson on Poets Quants, http://poetsandquants.com/2015/01/02/uclas-anderson-school-morphs-into-a-friendly-tech-hub/ . Anderson is a great place! Sorry for the lack of updates recently. I...