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Why College Applications Skyrocketed This Year 

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(SYRACUSE, N.Y.) -- All across the nation, colleges are reporting a record number of applications received for the class of 2015.

Harvard College, in Cambridge, Mass., reported a 15 percent increase in overall applicants from last year, to nearly 35,000 for roughly 2,200 acceptance slots.

At Syracuse University, in Syracuse, N.Y., the admissions office has received more than 25,270 applications, setting a school record with a 13 percent increase from last year.

And at Stanford University, the school received over 34,000 applications to fill its 1,700 slots for the incoming freshmen class.

Alan Krueger, an economics professor at Princeton University and the U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, said multiple factors are contributing to this increase.

"The job market is still quite weak, and it's not unusual when the job market is weak for students to stay in school longer or additional students to seek higher education," Krueger said. "There's also been a trend taking place where the more recent cohorts are larger - just because of the echo of the baby boom. You have an increase in the number of students who are college-age."

In Westport, Conn., Staples High School saw this year's senior class rise to a record number of 471 students, up from 386 students in the class of 2010.

"Another important factor is the Common Application form, which has made it less costly to apply to a larger number of schools," he added.

Addressing the increase from the schools' point of view, Eric Hoover, senior writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education, noted that the technology allows for colleges to recruit more heavily online.

"As recruitment has gone digital, the Web has reduced the cost and the hassles of the traditional recruit outreach," said Hoover. "It's making it easier for the colleges to reach out to students all over the country and the world."

One of the highest increases occurred at Columbia University, in New York City, whose applicant pool rose by 32 percent from last year, totaling 34,587 applications. Columbia attributes its membership in the Common Application as one of the key factors to this year's rise. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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