Courses prepping aspiring students for university entrance exams can cost a whopping 6,000 euro. However, with the wide variety of courses available, also the price range is large.
A short, intensive study package can be found for a couple of hundred of euros but an extensive course lasting several months sets a student back several thousands of euros, with for example the preparatory course provider Eximia advertising a medical course for 6,400 euro.
”The course lasts nine months and the teaching is organised in small groups. If you don’t get in after the prep course, you can take any of our courses for free the following year,” Matti Staudinger, marketing manager at Eximia explains the reasons behind the hefty price tag.
Julia Virkkunen, a twenty-year-old first-year medical student, participated in a prep course that lasted over six months last winter, with the group meeting several times a week towards the end of the course. The course cost 2,500 euro, money that was well spent, according to Virkkunen.
”We did a lot of work on this course and there were no mass lectures. Teachers had time to answer everyone’s questions individually.”
Choosing a suitable course can present a formidable challenge because of the wide variety of courses offered by a high number of organisers, including various companies and student organisations.
Valmennuskeskus and Eximia are two of the larger companies to offer prep courses in dozens of subjects in several towns. They are in competition with smaller companies and student organisations, which can focus on training in one or two fields.
A vast majority of medical students hone their skills on a prep course before taking the entrance exam. Prep course providers say that demand for courses is high also in law, business studies, pedagogical studies and psychology.
Around 80 per cent of law students attend a prep course organised by the student organisation Pykälä, says Erkko Meri, head of the organisation’s training section. “Out of the 200 new students that get accepted, perhaps 10 to 20 haven’t taken a prep course of any description.
Sini Tikka (21), Julia Virkkunen’s university friend, decided to go against the tide.
“I did consider taking a course or at least buying the study material but then realised that for me swotting at my own pace was the best thing to do. I could study at any time of the day or night and sometimes at home or then at the library when I felt like it. I liked not having to do the exercises at a certain time,” Tikka explains.
Even though opting for a prep course herself, Virkkunen goes along with Tikka’s views, saying that a course is not for everyone.
”I only took a couple of courses in physics at upper secondary school, and the idea of cramming physics on my own didn’t appeal to me,” says Virkkunen.
Tikka and Virkkunen admit that often the temptation to go with the flow can be hard to resist.
“My decision caused some raised eyebrows. People believe that everyone else is going on a prep course,” Tikka comments.