Is it my imagination…

… or are things getting more complicated since the advent of the web?

I recall that in my last year at school, I wrote to universities and asked for a list of organisations which might sponsor me on a degree course.  Then I wrote to a couple of those organisations asking for details and followed up with a completed application form.  It was pretty straightforward, and relatively painless.  And when I say “wrote”, I mean by hand, and “posted”, meaning through the mail service.  These days it seems to be strangely more complicated.

I just did an exercise to see how it works these days, and I put myself in the shoes of an imminent school-leaver.  I figured that with the benefit of the web, it should be even more straightforward than it was all those years ago.  Where to start?  University websites generally don’t have lists of potential sponsors, or partnering organisations.  Extensive web searching reveals plenty of such organisations, but they all seem to offer different things – placements, internships, training schemes.  It’s absolutely not obvious (to me), and for a student it must be quite a daunting prospect.

Are there any websites which make this easy (or easier) for students?  Do we expect school-leavers to do all this searching for themselves?  Is this part of a survival scheme, where only the fittest (or in this case, most persistent) reach the end?  Where should the responsibility lie to resolve this?  Should it be with the universities to forge closer ties with organisations, or should it be with the organisations themselves?  Or should schools be taking some of the responsibility to create these relationships?

I was naively hoping that somehow the web would help close the gap between the “for sale” and the “wanted”.  Why isn’t it as simple today as it was 25 years ago, when all it took was a few nicely worded letters and a bit of time waiting for the postman?


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