The Academically-Ambitious Au Pair: Options for serious education during an Au Pair Year

by cv harquail on April 11, 2014

The education requirement for au pairs can be a bit of a fig leaf.

The requirement makes Au Pairs “look like” exchange students for the purposes of Homeland Security and Immigration, even while the au pairs are here for what amounts to a full-time job.  8781754675_4a04023d2e_z

Most of the time, an au pair’s education is an after-thought.

It hurts to say this, being a professor myself, but I know that it’s true.

Because au pairs need to meet the requirements of the J-1 Visa and because for-credit classes can be so costly, we host parents (and au pairs) often find ourselves scrambling for education credits that are affordable, legitimate, and worth our au pair’s time.

It’s not just the cost of education credits in the USA that makes it hard for many au pairs to take serious courses. Unless an au pair can benefit from English conversation and composition, there are few other options.

Classes that are easy enough to understand in a second language may be conceptually boring, and …..

We interrupt this post to entreat you to participate in our Survey of AuPairMom Readers. Tell us what you like about the blog and what features you’d like to see.
Click Here to Take The Survey
Thank you! Now back to our regular programming……

…. au pairs who have already spent time at University might be too far advanced for the classes that they can afford at a community college.  Host parents and LCC’s have gotten accustomed to recommending that au pairs take classes mostly for the social elements.

But what about au pairs who are academically ambitious?
Especially, what about au pairs who want to pursue (or continue to pursue) an actual degree?

We had one academically ambitious au pair who took a macroeconomics course during her year with us, augmented the material with a textbook in her native language. She planned to ‘test out’ of the subject when she returned to University.  Another au pair remained enrolled in her University back in France, and took correspondence courses from home the whole time she lived with us.

Both of these au pairs were with us before the widespread availability of online, for-credit classes– so it’s got to be easier now. Right?

Are there many au pairs who want to pursue meaningful education or significant amount of credits during their year in the USA?  

If you’re an au pair, what’s worked well for you?  

If you’re a host parent of an academically ambitious au pair, what’s helped support your au pair in his/her studies?



See also:

Options for Fulfulling the Au Pair Education Requirement: Online Classes?
Learning about the “Education Requirement”
Your Au Pair Counselor As A Local Expert and Resource


Seattle Mom April 11, 2014 at 11:34 pm

So far all of my APs have taken non-academic classes.. in fact my current AP is taking a strength training class through the local community college. Our community college actually has a bunch of classes that are clearly geared for APs, the market is so big.

However, I did interview one potential AP who was a film student and interested in taking real film classes here. They would have been very expensive but she didn’t mind picking up the extra cost. I looked on the web and found an appropriate school for her, and checked that they had evening & weekend classes (they have a lot- it seems there are a lot of people out there who go back to school for film while they are working day jobs). I thought it was really cool that she wanted to do that, and I hope that wherever she is she managed to get the film classes she wanted. I was very interested in matching with her but she had limited experience with little kids and admitted she was more of a big-kid AP.

Returning HM April 12, 2014 at 8:12 am

Nearly all of our APs have been academically ambitious, possibly because as a college professor myself, this is the kind of AP with whom I best connect. In fact, our rematch AP right now is the first AP I can think of in our seven years in the program who will have taken only weekend classes. The others all took serious classes in their areas of interest/expertise, including one Educare who took six classes, including four in art (which she had never been allowed to study before), and went back home with a different focus for university than she had previously had. In her case, we had a great community college nearby that offered interesting and reasonable art classes for au pairs, but in most of our APs’ cases, they have done better at the “extension school” of big/prestigious universities. Because we have moved so much our APs over the years have taken classes at Georgetown, Harvard, and Princeton. All loved their classes, loved studying at those universities, and especially loved bringing home the papers that showed they had completed classes at those universities. In one AP’s case, her study at Harvard helped solidify for her that she wanted to go into psychology, and in another’s case, that he wanted education instead of psychology (they took the same class in subsequent years – had different views on it).

Good, reasonable classes do exist at these universities, even if not taught by their star professors….and sometimes courses are offered at a discount for APs (both Princeton and Georgetown offered significant – maybe 30% off? – discounts for APs, and Harvard’s extension classes are very reasonable too). We definitely supplement the educational stipend as needed for motivated APs who really want to study while they’re here (we are not supplementing, though, for our AP now who is only doing two last-minute weekend classes because he has decided to extend).

Seattle Mom April 14, 2014 at 1:21 am

Where do you find academically ambitious APs? We haven’t specifically been looking for that quality, but it might be something to consider. We haven’t looked for “academic ambition” but we do prefer intelligent APs. To be honest only our first AP was really that smart- she did not get to go to university (in France) because she didn’t get tracked that way, but she was clearly a sharp girl. The last 3 APs have been not very sharp. This is mostly a problem for my husband, who loses patience quickly with people who don’t function on a certain intellectual level.

Returning HM April 14, 2014 at 11:02 pm

How do we end up with academically ambitious APs? It helps that at this point, we only consider German speakers and have in the past several years only had APs who had completed their A-levels, which right there will have weeded out a lot of people who didn’t want the extra two years of study. We also do a lot of emailing before moving on to skyping, so people who aren’t comfortable writing a lot and fluidly (if not fluently) would not make it through our opening round.

I also ask a lot of questions during matching about what kinds of courses a prospective AP would like to take while here, and I start researching the availability of those courses, which I send to them before they come. As mentioned above, in the three states where we have lived while hosting APs (MD, NJ, and MA), we have not had problems finding excellent, high quality institutions where our au pairs could take somewhat reasonably-priced extension-school courses (which we do supplement). In nearly all cases, I have been able to find courses to suit the needs of our prospective au pair. In the seven years we have hosted, this has meant APs have taken classes in psychology, biology, education, art, history, and English, as well as one who studied for and took the TOEFL. Our AP coming this summer is already trained as a teacher, and he is the one I am actually having the hardest time finding good courses for, because he has already completed his Education degree so the basic education courses offered aren’t quite up to his level (though he may decide that the experience of taking a class at Harvard is worth it even if the material covered isn’t entirely new to him!).

As I said above, our rematch AP now (whom I didn’t screen this way) is the one who seems the least motivated to take courses here and thus is doing just the weekend courses to fulfill the requirement for extension. That said, he is studying anyway, as he somehow has decided he wants to go to Stanford (!) for college, when he done with his extension year, so he has decided he needs to bolster his English vocab skills (already very strong) in order to take the required exams. Of course if anyone saw the article in the NYT last week about Stanford admissions, you know his chances of getting in are less than 5%, but you can’t fault the guy for trying!! Although he is the least motivated to take courses of the others, he is also probably the smartest, and is definitely the only AP we have ever had to cite Greek mythology in analogy to our Monday afternoon schedule (he likened it to a Sisyphean challenge). :-)

HRHM April 12, 2014 at 8:32 am

Our first APs came to us in the middle of PA and we lived between 2 college towns where the university would allow APs to “sit in” for $25 or $125 per course! AP1 took full advantage and enjoyed it immensely. AP2 had zero interest and ended up taking photography adult education classes instead.

Since then, we’ve lived near great schools, all have made it nearly impossible for APs to take anything beside ESL (most of mine don’t need it) or basket weaving. Even if the costs weren’t prohibitive (they are!) they don’t seem to want to allow them to take real classes. Very frustrating – I don’t think we could support an AP who was academically ambitious for those reasons. Although I would love to find one as I’m pretty sure that speaks to a level of maturity and responsibility that would make for a great AP!

Multitasking Host Mom April 12, 2014 at 10:27 am

I have found now that when I interview, I try to be very clear that the $500 education stiepend does not get very far here. Both of my past two AP had this idea that they would be at something like an ivy league university when really all they can afford is classes at the 2 year community college. I feel like I am crushing their ambitions but I also want to be sure they have appropriate expectations. That being said our current AP is taking classes she really enjoys including a creative writing class she wasn’t able to fit into her course work during her time in college at home. So I think if the AP is motivated they can make it work anywhere. I wish we lived near a university that would give APs a deal, but the closest one charges them like they are an international student meaning it will be more than $1000 a class.

Dorsi April 12, 2014 at 12:08 pm

I try hard to reduce their expectations as well. In our community the AP will be taking Zumba and basketweaving. We live a few miles from a impressive University who has made it impossible for APs to take classes there. In theory, they might be able to audit — for the exact same price as enrolling in the class, and also requires admission to the university.

I think some APs have rejected us over the years because I have been clear about what they can expect from the education portion of the program. However, I doubt they have gotten a better situation (at least from an education perspective) — I just imagine other families don’t know how unlikely it is that the AP will be able to take serious classes.

Dorsi April 12, 2014 at 12:10 pm

A lot of my APs have taken ESL classes, and have needed them. However, as my LCC is fond of saying: ESL class is where you meet a bunch of people who don’t speak English. I think they would often be better off (in terms of getting an authentic American experience) in taking painting/yoga/creative writing.

Anonymous in CA April 13, 2014 at 5:02 pm

While I do agree that for someone whose spoken and written English is very strong this can be beneficial, I find that the APs I’ve encountered (3 hosted, several of their AP friends, and lots of interview e-mails as I’m gearing up to host again after an 18 month hiatus), even those whose spoken English is quite good, would benefit from focused study on grammar, spelling, basic writing, and reading. If they have ambitions to get to a level of proficiency in English that they have the option of using it professionally, they wil need this practice. So why not take advantage of being in an English-speaking ocuntry to get that practice? I also think there can be benefit for even good English speakers to be with others learning English in an ESL class….there is no better way to really learn something well than having to explain it to a peer. Now if only there were such classes that are affordable, at times when APs can attend, and accessible….now that would be something.

TexasHM April 12, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Being in TX we haven’t had anyone thinking they were going to go to Harvard but I have had APs in the interview process turn us down for exactly that reason (I want to live in X city so I can go to Y university). By the way, the two that did this both ended up in rematch so didn’t end up going to those schools anyway and I have to think that must commonly be the case when you go into the process with your priorities in the wrong place.
We had first AP take ESL classes and desperately needed them. Second tried to take ESL but course got cancelled so she took the APIA online American Studies class (actually both APs took this and both said bleh – don’t recommend to other APs unless they can’t get their education credits elsewhere due to scheduling or timing).
Third AP is right now in a weekend course in San Francisco as I only recently learned about this option or I would have totally told our first two to look at this as I love that it combines coursework and travel. She took a day off before and after (Fri and Mon) to tour the city in addition to the course and is loving it.
We live too far from the major universities to make that feasible and with young children its hard to find serious night and weekend course options for APs at the community colleges near us. I have heard much better reviews of the daytime options but we won’t be on that schedule for another 18 months. I do wish the universities made it easier for APs to study something a little meatier. With the low cost of living here the classes are $115-150 each so the education credit is plenty so our APs are thrilled they don’t have the same problem many of their friends in the major markets complain about (having to pay $$$ in addition to the family credit just to get the required 6 hours). Our APs often take extra classes but as others have said, if they aren’t interested in ESL its hard to make that worthwhile and yes, thats where you go to meet others that are trying to learn English so they don’t usually make any new American friends in those classes.
Multitasking HM I find it noble that you expectation set on this upfront. I have heard from several major market APs very upset when they arrive and realize they are going to have to fork out $$ just to get the required 6 hours whatever they study let alone what they dreamed about or that the ivy league school is not going to be an option.

JenNC April 14, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Through and were is she taking this course ins an francisco?!? Jen

Deb Schwarz April 12, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Our 15 au pairs have taken non-academic classes – one wanted to open a dance studio back in Australia and she was a dancer so she took dance classes at our local community college. (she is now the country recruiting manager for Cultural Care Au Pair – so proud of her!) Some of those in my au pair group have taken classes at Berkeley for their resume.

A great idea for those that want resume builders is to audit classes for a much lower price (as HRHM) pointed out. This is the way to go for those that want to get more about of their year without the excessive cost.

It drives me to distraction that the State Dept. took away the week long au pair trips to National Parks as an option (e.g. SunTrek and Trek America). These were the best way for au pairs to learn about the U.S. and much more educational than basket weaving or power lifting at the local community college. (apparently a host parent complained to the State Dept. that there was a bikini clad photo of an au pair in their brochure. In past years, these Trek National Park tours were the highlight of the year for both our own personal au pairs and the au pairs that I oversaw in my group. (don’t get me started on this…..I tend to rant when I even think about it…..I want to spit nails).

Deb Schwarz
Host mom to 15 au pairs
Cultural Care Au Pair LCC

Should be working April 12, 2014 at 6:57 pm

How do APs take classes at Berkeley?? You have to be admitted at a place like that, don’t you? And wouldn’t it cost a lot to audit?

WarmStateMomma April 12, 2014 at 2:57 pm

The public colleges near us aren’t too welcoming for APs. They have to apply as if they were degree-seeking students, take placement exams, and pay the full international rate. There is no audit option and a majority of the night/weekend courses are ESL or advanced welding. Most academic or creative courses are online or taught at 9 am.

AP#1 took a weekend travel course for APs (mixed reviews on that) and took a couple of non-credit adult education classes (drawing and cooking) at a prestigious university 45 minutes away. These courses were a surprisingly good value.

AP#2 wants to take business courses to meet the pre-requisites for an online MBA. Her business classes will probably all have to be online because academic courses aren’t offered on nights/weekends here, so she will likely have to take ESL (a waste of time for her) or go on a weekend travel course to meet the program AP requirements (more tolerable).

AussiePair April 12, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I came here with the intention of studying photography (as far as I could) at local community colleges, I did the first one and had to use all the education allowance for my first three credits. So now I’m doing weekend course, I also moved states and any photography course I can now do is either below what I’ve already done or at a time where I’m working. Also getting into the community college last time was the biggest pain, I had to take placement tests(they tried to make me take an ESL placement test too), meet with a counselor and fill out complicated forms to pay in county tuition, in the end I’m not sure it’s worth my while to take courses that would actually be beneficial in the long run.

And not speaking for other agencies, but CCAP certainly made it sound like it was easy to find good courses without using up all of that education allowance. Coming over here I had no idea of the cost of education, I think recruiters in the home country (or at least Australia) could and should do a better job at expectation setting.

AussiePair April 12, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Oh and it’s a bit if a pain that they won’t accept online credit courses. I understand part of that reasoning is to broaden the “American experience” bit most of the courses au pairs do they’re either meeting other au pairs, or if doing ESL classes; people who don’t speak English.

exaupair April 12, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Do Au Pairs in the US have to pick classes for other APs only to get credits or are they free to choose between all that’s available??

exaupair April 12, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Ok, I’ve just answered my own question! :-)

German Au-Pair April 12, 2014 at 3:47 pm

I took regular classes at a community college (Psychology and related subjects) that I thought might benefit me somehow in the future even though I couldn’t get credit for them. But honestly, the quality of community colleges is in no way comparable to the universities here. I got straight As in all my classes without actually putting any effort in it. I was lucky I had an amazing professor for two of them but was bored out of my mind in the third class. I think unless you have a lot of money and can afford a real university in the US, there is no way you can actually do anything useful. Or is there such a thing as a high quality community college?

AussiePair April 12, 2014 at 8:38 pm

I went to, what I think was a high quality community college in Maryland, the professors were great and the course work was challenging, but with all the red tape and hoop jumping you have to do and at at least $500(inc. textbooks) for three credits it’s honestly not worth it unless you’re here for the specific reason of studying and don’t want to travel.

Anonymous in CA April 13, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Not to mention, AussiePair, that you’re a native English speaker and you had a tough time with red tape…think if English weren’t your first language! It’s disappointing that it’s so hard for au pairs to have a decent education component.

AussiePair April 13, 2014 at 6:19 pm

I had a hard enough time trying to convince them that I WAS a native English speaker, I wouldn’t wish the red tape the other au pairs must pass on anyone. And I completely agree, I had a German friend (whose English was excellent) and she had such a hard time to simply change out of a class, it’s really sad that there aren’t more feasible options.

On another note many of my fellow au pairs have said that the ESL classes they were able to attend were so far below the classes they’d taken in their home countries that they were often wastes of time or boring. Sojourner Douglass provides good weekend classes, but being in an area they don’t host classes makes it expensive to attend them, it would be nice if they were more widespread, and also if the were more course specific. I signed up for an “experiencing American traditions and culture class” and ended up being able to chooses every single class I took that weekend (most of which had nothing to so with the culture or traditions of America). However it is still a good option to receive 4 CEUs

WarmStateMomma April 14, 2014 at 7:07 am

It seems unfair for the State Dept to require the classes and for the agencies to promote the educational opportunities when the reality is so different for many APs. Many colleges and universities simply discourage casual students from dropping by to take a couple of courses – the ones near me certainly don’t want APs and I’m in the suburbs of a pretty large city. The courses APs realistically get to choose from can be a complete waste of time and money, which is a shame.

Seattle Mom April 14, 2014 at 1:31 am

The community college where my husband teaches is high quality.. many local students go there for 2 years before moving on to a top-rated university as a way to save money. But taking regular for-credit classes is prohibitively expensive, so all the APs take “continuing ed” classes. Those are all a joke (academically) so the best thing to do is take something fun.

German Au-Pair April 14, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Well the classes I took where the same the people who planned on going to a Universitry afterwards took but they were still a joke.
I tried to take a Spanish class and described to the professor what my Spanish level in High School was (I sucked! A lot!) and he advised me to take the beginners class. I insisted on taking a placement test and got a B on the beginners class’ final just out of the top of my head. However, the advanced class probably would have been too difficult so I ended up not taking it. It was so frustrating to spend time in college for absolutely nothing.

Should be working April 12, 2014 at 7:00 pm

I am a college prof as well, and so I give the APs the option of looking through the college course catalog and if there is something they like, I write a pleasant, collegial email to the colleague who teaches it explaining that we have kids, what the AP is, and that the AP would love to sit in on the course (and we buy the books/materials). Esp. if it is a large lecture, it doesn’t matter to them if one more person sits in. And then I ask if they are willing to sign a letter (which I offer to draft for them, to save them effort) that the AP successfully “attended” the course. So far our agency has found this a fine solution.

Maybe other HPs could write to a prof at a local college and make a similar request.

Seattle Mom April 14, 2014 at 1:33 am

That is a great idea.. my husband is an adjunct prof at a couple of different schools in the area and he could probably work out something with some of the profs. Unfortunately it’s very unlikely that an AP would want to take a class in his department, where he knows the most people: math & physics.

German Au-Pair April 14, 2014 at 2:27 pm

I didn’t even know that was a possibility. My HM taught at one of the top universities and I would have loved to attend, but auditing was still so horribly expensive that we didn’t consider it. Bummer.

Old China Hand April 13, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Our state won’t let APs get community college classes for in state prices, so our LCC was really negative about course opportunities. I teach at a small liberal arts college (as I’ve mentioned before, i’m a geology prof) and my school lets anyone in the community audit any class for free with permission of the instructor. But, because of the size of the school, few classes that allow auditors meet at times the AP can go. I caved with this one and she audited three real academic classes (language pedagogy (which required her to start tutoring local kids in Chinese), Chinese civilizations, and modern china). We also have student taught classes that kids teach and take for credit, and she has taken a heap of these. I think with future APs I will be stricter about the timing of classes and say they can meet their ed requirement with these student taught classes instead of letting them think the entire course catalog is open to them. As far as I can tell, anyone teaching a straight lecture will allow auditors, but those classes just aren’t at good times for me because we basically have no none-traditional students. On the other hand, Chinese APs generally already have a college degree. We do have ESL classes taught by students every semester and those have been great for our AP to meet college kids who want to practice teaching English. Not so many students in them. :) But at least the $500 goes a REALLY long way here with no tuition to pay.

Old China Hand April 13, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Oh, I should add, our agency has been totally fine with letters from profs saying the AP sat in on classes as an auditor. I only bother getting them from enough courses to meet her minimum ed requirement.

NYC au pair April 14, 2014 at 9:16 am

When I spoke with the recruitment officer in my country about classes she talked about how I could take a dance class or a pottery class and I inturupted her informing her I was either interested in law, advertising or business classes to supplement my bachelors degree and was told that I could easily enroll.
However when I arrived between scheduling, costs (my country is significantly cheaper and application requirements for international students it became obvious to me that I am better off to take these classes at home from equally or more prestigious universities.
Sadly enough I find my options are classes such as the weekend trips (Niagra Falls, Montreal, Boston…) or photography or photoshop through continuing education classes at poorly run or disorganized community colleges. I’ve already taken a weekend class and although found it enjoyable it was absolutely not academic (although I do see it’s value to au pairs who are new to or learning English).
The unfortunate reality for most au pairs is that unless price is not an issue they are really best off taking puff courses, it’s a major flaw in the system, but sadly as an academically ambitious au pair (considering a law degree or perhaps An MBA) you’re honestly most likely better off signing up for a yoga class and calling it a day. Unfortunately.

Momma Gadget April 14, 2014 at 3:48 pm

There are so many colleges by us,yet anything other than continuing ed,or ESL classes are prohibitively expensive, as the schools consider the APs foreign students.

Most of our APs have opted for weekend travel classes out of NY ( Brooklyn). They spend 4 classes studying the history of an area, like DC, Boston, Niagara Falls and then on the 5th weekend they travel there- bus / hotel/ breakfast included. They definitely get more bang for the buck than most of the inane CE available .

It is such a farce that they only accept credit for courses from accredited institutions, and won’t accept the town education departments continuing ed classes. With the money allotted, most are not taking serious achademic classes anyway. Local CE offer so many more topics and fun classes at 1/4 the price, and at times more conducive to APs hours.

WarmStateMomma April 14, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Yes! It’s form over function and the APs are the ones who lose out.

Taking a Computer Lunch April 14, 2014 at 11:08 pm

I’ve hosted 9 APs in the past 13 years and they’ve been all over the map. Several APs wanted to stay in the US (only 1 actually did) and took the ESL courses necessary to advance to college credit courses.

The other APs had a variety of strategies, from weekend travel courses (a big rip off if you ask me – only because they don’t organize special trips for the students traveling to those cities. For example, the AP traveling to NYC didn’t get to go to the Statue of Liberty because by the time she knew she had to organize her own side trip it was too late to get tickets. Really? For $500, I’d expect they’d at least order tickets and let the APs purchase them?!!!) One took Italian – because why not? Several did weekend classes to other cities, and one took the APIA online course (the one seemingly least interested in improving her English for a long-term goal).

Only 1 in 9 score proficient enough to bypass the ESL classes. She took a creative writing class and really enjoyed it. One took a singing class to bypass the ESL test (and then took an ESL speech class).

We have lots of opportunities to earn one-credit for free in our community. I’ve learned over the years to pay attention to the personality of the AP when it comes to those. They’re so big that introverts are overwhelmed.

Ex²Aupair April 16, 2014 at 1:02 pm

When in the US (right out of school) I took two ESL classes – mostly because they were free, the only au pair I knew went there as well, they were conveniently located, fit my work schedule, and I liked the people I met there. I scored 99/100 in the placement test so I am not certain that I desperately needed to take ESL classes but as everything else fit my needs very well…

As the ESL classes didn’t cost anything I also took a local history class which I loved! We (okay: I) learned a lot about local history, traditions etc. and the class concluded with a field trip through rural Ohio, including Amish country.

When I became an au pair in Norway a few years later I had just taken my intermediate exames at university, didn’t really want to drop out as I needed to take more exams at the end of the semester (and didn’t want to re-apply), and took a few online classes at my home university (creative writing, academic writing and a sociology class) in addition to Norwegian classes at a local language school. Taking classes at university in addition to the language classes (6 hrs/week) and providing childcare for my hostfamily (40 hrs/week) did cut into my free time but as I saw that I would get me somewhere I was okay with it. I really doubt I could have done that at 19, working 45 to 50 hrs/week plus taking ESL classes locally (4 hrs/week).

During my time in the US right after school all I knew was that I wanted to study but I wasn’t sure what. I was leaning towards medicine/pharmacy/biochemistry but knew that I couldn’t take any classes towards that goal while in the US (cost, red tape, hours I was able to take classes, couldn’t transfer credits etc.). 15 years later and I have an M.A. in English with minors in Sociology and Psychology. Well, a 19 year old may dream ;)

I volunteer as an interviewer in my home country now and try to paint a realistic picture of the possibility to take classes. It depends on where the host family lives, not every city offers high end community colleges, not every college offers inexpensive high quality classes, not ever college will let you audit for free. The family only hast to provide $500, additional money will have to come out of their pocket (less money for traveling, shopping, hobbies etc.). Au pairs might have to struggle with some red tape, maybe take an ESL class before they can sign up for regular classes, might have to take a TOEFL and reach a certain score, colleges might request immunization records, birth certificates or other documents an au pair might not have on hand. Depending on when the au pair arrives in the country choices might have to be made quickly because of the start of term. Classes they like might not be available during their time off. Their childcare commitment comes first, the family relies on them.
I tell them that they can take classes if they find something suitable that fits their interests, financial means and work schedule and if they are willing to invest the time (and money) with a very slight chance that they will be able to “use” the classes they took when they return back home to study (I work in unversity administration, I know it’s nearly impossible to transfer credits accumulated while being an au pair in the US at least at my university).

All au pairs I knew who took “real” classes either held degrees in their home country (one of my friends from Asia had a MA in architecture and was taking pre-med classes in preparation to switch to a F1 visa and study medicine at the end of her year) or had school-aged children, worked very little and had plenty of time during the day (e.g. working 25 hrs/week and being off between 9 and 3 every day). The rest took ESL because it was inexpensive, we didn’t know what we wanted to study when we returned anyways, we simply didn’t have a lot of time for classes, we had very little support from our host family / agency when it came to how to sign up for classes and did what other au pairs did, we knew we couldn’t transfer credits or we just wanted to take a gap year and not worry about academics after 13 years of school and before starting university and studying another five to x years.

Comments on this entry are closed.