Options for Fulfilling Au Pair Education Requirement: Online Classes?

Dear Mom:

I’m a first-time host-parent to a lovely 21 year old first-time Au Pair from Scandinavia (through Cultural Care), as well as a first-time mom of 19 month old twins, and I really enjoy this site.

I’m hoping your readers might have some sage advice for me. I’m starting to obsess over this issue, which is ridiculous because the last thing I have time to do it obsess about anything. But when it comes to my Au Pair, who is a bit on the lackadaisical side of life, in addition to being pretty naïve, I often feel like nothing will get done unless I dive in and take over.

201010281740.jpgSo here’s the current problem: We just moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to a remote alpine resort town 3.5 hours away. When we visited the area for an extended vacation we were glad to see a small college in town, half a mile from our home, and we presumed (I know, never make any presumptions) if we moved here, that we’d simply enroll our au pair in an inexpensive Community Education class at this college. We noted that this college is chock-full of Scandinavians, making my Au Pair feel like she has died and gone to heaven.

When we decided we wanted to move here by mid-September, and contacted the college for enrollment information, we were told that all of the classes were full, cost a minimum of $600 per credit, and that they don’t even have a Community Education program! The college suggested classes that Au Pair could take in the Spring semester at their sister-school, but that school is a 45 minute drive each way, and our Au Pair doesn’t know how to drive (public transportation here exists, but that route between our home and the sister-school would take 2 hours each way).

We asked the only other Au Pair in town what she does, and she drives an hour each way 3 times per week to the closest small-city University. I also asked the area’s LCC, who told me along the lines of, “That school in your town is a pain in the neck to get into. The next closest place is over an hour drive in each direction, so if your Au Pair doesn’t drive, that’s a big problem. Maybe the Area Coordinator has a suggestion.”

I might also add that me driving Au Pair to school an hour each way, staying for her class and driving her home is not going to work because my husband is away 3 nights a week, and her classes would take place during her time off, while my babies are sleeping, so please, let’s not go there.

I spoke with our former Area Coordinator at Cultural Care, who isn’t very familiar with my new home town, but did tell me that there simply aren’t enough Au Pairs here to make it worthwhile to them to make a concession, and advised me that Au Pair could take a weekend class at one of two East Coast locations: Silver Bay YMCA 80 miles north of Albany, or CW Post, which isn’t too far out on Long Island.

Bingo!, I thought, until I looked up the course schedule, and then airline schedules. Now, because we feel somewhat guilty about the timing of our move, which was a very self-indulgent move on our part that will allow my husband and I to remain at home with our children full-time (he working from home, me a SAHM), and we really weren’t putting much thought on how it might effect Au Pair, we feel like we should pay for the weekend course and her transportation to/from.

However, after some research, I found that either option will cost us nearly $1,200. Both options are going to require our Au Pair to take a red-eye from our nearest airport plus two more hops just to get there, then manage ground transportation on her own in a strange location (for CW Post, it’s the LIRR and then a shuttle; and in the SB case, if she’s lucky, we might be able to time her flight to catch the private shuttles that have been arranged by the teachers), and upon her return, she will get stuck at a West Coast airport overnight (either LAX, San Diego, Phoenix, or Salt Lake) before flying the remainder of the trip the following morning. As an alternative, we could put her up at a hotel near the school; either way, it means we now have to add the cost of a hotel room, ground transportation and food to the aforementioned fees, not to mention the fact that we won’t have an Au Pair from Wednesday night to Tuesday morning. I haven’t even told my Au Pair all this yet, because I know it will cause her a lot of apprehension and nervousness.

The Cultural Care representative told me that they don’t have weekend courses available on the West Coast, just these two locations in the Northeast. I haven’t been able to determine if these weekend courses that she suggested are specifically run by Cultural Care and, therefore, only available for their Au Pairs that they bring in to the US. I found a weekend Au Pair course at UCLA, which would be wayyyy easier for us to manage, but it alludes that these courses are only for Au Pairs from a different agency.


Would some of your readers experienced in this issue be able to let me know if these weekend courses are “Agency Specific”, and if they are, if they have had experience enrolling their Au Pairs into weekend classes that might not be through their agency?

Our Au Pair needs to fulfill her remaining 3 credit requirement by February 3rd, and due to pre-paid travel plans, that leaves us with one weekend in early December at CW Post as our only option right now. I guess another option would be to let Au Pair lose her deposit (not sure what it is in her country, but maybe we pay her back for it?), but then she can’t extend with another family or re-apply as an Au Pair for two years, and she has already indicated that she’d like to stay (with us, at least).

What do I do? Are there any options I’ve overlooked?


Hi TahoeTwinsMom –

Wow. I am really impressed by your efforts to track down all the possible options for your au pair’s education requirement. Many host moms would not have gone to such lengths on the au pair’s behalf, especially if she shows little interest in it herself. I understand that part of your reason for taking on this responsibility is that you feel responsible– your move put your au pair in a tough situation, requirement-wise. But still, many would have given up! good for you.

From what I see, you have two additional options to consider.

One option is to ask your au pair how much she really cares about extending or reapplying, and if she doesn’t care you can just ‘make her whole’ by covering the expense she’d incur by not filling this requirement.201010281747.jpg

201010281741.jpgTh e other option is to consider an online class. Doesn’t somewhere like Phoenix University or DeVry have economical online classes that she might take? Even though your au pair would not get out of the house and meet interesting people taking an online class, she might be able to fit it into her schedule easily.

I’d love to hear whether anyone has tried this strategy. And, I can’t wait to see what kinds of options other readers recommend…. Folks?

Karyn Gartel Online Class  
from marthaleverDistance Education from The Degree Experts

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Muirhead June 22, 2011 at 10:34 pm

I am reading this blog because I want to try to understand the needs of au pairs and their host families. I think there should be simple solutions to satisfying the education requirements. How ridiculous it is that families and au pairs should have to go through so much just to get their education credits!
I am actively trying to get local accredited schools to make things easier for au pairs. If any one is in the Washington DC or Northern Virginia area, and has an au pair education issue, feel free to contact me directly at wmuirhead@nvcc.edu.


LuvCheetos August 3, 2011 at 10:21 am


I’m a NoVa host mom. The biggest complaint our APs had was that there weren’t many classes available to them. They seemed to be only qualified to take English classes at NVCC, which they did not enjoy at all. For the same price, they can complete all of their credits in a few weekends at at a school in Maryland and do more than have innane conversations in English. Is there some way to make a wider variety of classes available to them? Perhaps even Phys. Ed. type of classes or art classes where the English level may not be as much of a barrier (which, by the way, my APs have been German and very proficient in English, but I assume that was the barrier for them).


Anna August 3, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I am going through it right now. Our au pairs also take classes at NVCC, and the only affordable ones (several seem to be designed just for them) are in the Continuing Education program. THat’s great, but they want to take psychology, not American Culture or ESL class. So yes, it would be great if there were more of those 6 credit $475 evening classes on other topics.
Yes, many au pairs want to improve their English. But many want to take courses related to their profession, it can help them back home. Common request was psychology (all those teachers/humanities majors…)
Or maybe have an affordable combo of a 2 credit and a 4 credit class in the Continuing Education program, where one class is serious – psychology or marketing etc., and one is fun – art or gym, or special project, dance, au pair theater troup, etc.
Emailing you the above.


LuvCheetos August 3, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Agreed, Anna. You also raise a good point about tuition. Affordability is key as the HF pay only up to $500 and the AP is stuck with the rest. My current AP is REALLY cheap. I think she’ll be shocked by the reality of how much she will likely end up paying.


AFHostMom January 13, 2012 at 11:20 pm

My AP is staying in the US for a year to study–today was her last day. She had planned to go to NOVA CC but having not heard anything about her I-20 since November, when I was also worried and called, and was assured that “it’s being worked on, everything is fine!” I called last week. Turns out that there was some documentation missing and no one ever bothered to call and let me know. I left a message with the international student office last week, and surprise, never got a call back (after I was assured I would hear back by the end of the day). Fortunately we found a smaller, more concerned school–where AP had already taken classes–that is able to issue the I20 in a short time period, since NOVA pretty well dropped the ball. It works out better also because the other college is much more affordable. I can’t get enthusiastic about my AP, who has worked hard and socked away a lot of money this year, paying over $300 per credit hour for community college English classes.


NoVA Twins Mom January 14, 2012 at 10:17 am

AFHostMom – can you share what the smaller, more concerned school was? We’re in NOVA too and I’d love to know of a more affordable, “friendly” (?) option is. Our current au pair did a class that combined classes near the Smithsonian with a trip to Niagara Falls (I think different from the one that was just posted about) and one of the weekend classes in Maryland, but having another option would be great.


AFHostMom January 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Sure–it is an English school, though, so you may not find it useful for an AP who wants more choices. She’s going to Lado College, which has centers in Arlington, DC and Silver Spring. I am normally *not* a fan of for-profit educational institutions, but this is an exception. My AP (and the new one arriving this week) both came to the US from South America with the express goal of improving their English, and since their educational goals have that focus, Lado has worked well so far. Departing AP got all her education credits for less than the $500 educational stipend, and we were able to pay for her materials too. They have several class options during the week and on weekends which worked well for us since she was spending her weekends in Arlington. And they offered a 10% discount on course fees to au pairs.


Taking a Computer Lunch January 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm

I have had APs who have used LADO in the past – they’re all over the greater metro DC area, and they are a bargain for APs trying to get all of their credit requirements for $500 or under. They are not great for APs whose greatest need is a listening comprehension/speech class, because their function appears to get ESOL students ready to take the TOEFL. In my experience, if you have an AP who takes the LADO test and scores at a level 5 or higher–and her goal is to really improve her English (not just meet her requirement), then her needs would be better met at a community college.

I will say that I had two APs who took a course at LADO, followed by one at Montgomery College (where one ESOL or composition class will meet the total requirements for about $600) and they found Mont. Coll. course far superior and rigorous (one ended up staying in the US and the other really wanted to stay). For HP in Montgomery County, Maryland the college treats APs as employees and offers in-county tuition.

AFHostMom January 14, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Thanks TACL–good info, and I’ll pass it on to former and new AP. Former AP scored 3 or 4 on the test (I think), so the school was a good fit for her. Incoming AP is VERRRRRY anxious about her English and has gotten a lot of help from her sister (a former AP herself)during our phone calls and skype interviews, so I think it will be appropriate for her too. We’ve selected au pairs who really want to work on their English because we’ve found it gives us a better pool of candidates with the qualities that are important to us (so far). But we live near the PG/AA county line so unless she plans to do the same thing former AP did and go away every weekend, Lado will not be convenient for her.

Returning HM January 14, 2012 at 7:34 pm

For folks in NOVA who are close to DC, Georgetown Univ also has English classes (offered at night), and au pairs can use a 15% off coupon for at least a few more days (I think until the 17th). Our AP, who is an Educare so needs double the credits/hours and has double the amount from us to spend on classes, took classes last semester at Montgomery College and this semester will take one at Mont Co and one at Gtown – all for just slightly more than the $500 allotted per semester.

The guy at Gtown who oversees au pair registration is very willing to help with any issues, too.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 14, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Georgetown also offers free, 1 CEU classes that are a few hours on Saturday afternoons for a few weeks. However, the education is NOT very differentiated, so our AP who used this found it intriguing, but it did not change her language skills (it did, however, help her bond with some people she might not have otherwise met). It can be chaotic, because sometimes all the groups meet at once – great for extroverts with good listening skills, but may be too overwhelming for quiet APs.

azmom June 23, 2011 at 3:13 pm

there are a few other weekend college options. one is in chicago – http://www.weekendprogram.org/

I know that online isn’t an option for Interexchange, but University of Phoenix does offer weeknight/weekend courses on campus. http://www.phoenix.edu then put in your zipcode. Classes are likely one night a week, but there are team requirements so she may have to meet with classmates in person before some assignments.


A Host Mom June 23, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Here is a program offered through BMCC in New York. There are 2 programs in Washington DC. My au pairs have taken these classes and it is a fun way to get some travelling in while taking the required classes.



Jennifer Caballero August 3, 2011 at 1:12 am

Hello, does anybody knows about weekend classes for au pairs but in the South. I live in Texas and the 2 colleges near my town are 40-50 minutes far away driving. I asked for a concession (take online classes) to my Program Director and they said that I can’t do that.
Thank you.


Kristin April 13, 2016 at 9:58 am

TCU has two weekend programs. The girls can stay on campus or travel back and forth. We live kind of close but ours is considering staying on campus for fun. It is for Au Pairs.


TX PT Mom December 15, 2016 at 1:51 am

Kristin. Thank you so much for this! Checking with our area director now.


Claire September 19, 2011 at 4:01 am

Online classes go against the spirit of the program, as well as against the program rules. This is not an agency rule.

The government rules specifically states that the au pair must “complete not less than six semester hours (or their equivalent) of academic credit in formal educational settings at accredited U.S. post-secondary institutions.”

Pay close attention to the “formal educational settings” part.

I know that many agencies do bend this rule and accept classes taken in environments other than a post-secondary institution, which I think it is not fair to the au pair.

To the OP: the weekend program mentioned earlier in this thread is also offered in Maryland and Florida, not only in Chicago. So, it would be worthwhile to check how much would be to get your au pair to one of those locations. Sometimes you can find real good deals online, I hope you do. Best of luck to you!


Karen Place January 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Hi!!! There is also a new weekend course being offered from the University at Buffalo! (Western New York, is about 20 minutes from the border of Niagara Falls and the border of Canada)
A NEW Au Pair Educational Weekend Program at the New York State University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY (20 minutes away from Niagara Falls, NY). Program begins at 12:00 PM, Friday, February 10, 2012 and concludes 3:00 PM, Sunday, February 12, 2012. Upon completion of the weekend program, you will receive 4 Continuing Education Units from the New York State University at Buffalo. Cost to participate is $350 (resident rate, which is all inclusive) or $280 (commuter rate, which does not include accommodations or breakfast). Visit the website at http://www.millardfillmorecollege.com/au_pair. Check back for updates, a full agenda of workshops and events, and new dates. This exclusive Au Pair weekend will only be offered 6 times a year, so don’t miss out and register today!


Taking a Computer Lunch January 13, 2012 at 11:42 pm

US – APs – do the math – 4 CEUs is NOT 4 credits, so if your HF ponies up for this course, you may have to pay a lot of money to meet your total State Department requirement. Yes, this sounds like a lovely way to earn credits – until you realize that a trip to Niagara Falls can be MUCH cheaper than $350 (yes, I know, the HF may for this trip, but then, so will you when you when you must find enough classes to meet your requirement).

I have had APs take lovely weekend trips that sounded wonderful on paper (notice this one says it does not pay for accommodations if you’re outside of NY State), but then ended up getting dumped having to pay their own touring expenses.

I would have no problem with these courses if someone who was actually knowledgeable led them (my AP taking a Manhattan trip course found out too late that she would have to book her own side trip to Liberty Island, by which time there was no opportunity to go to the top of the Statue of Liberty that weekend).

If the person running this course cannot answer the simple question – why is the NY side a State Park and the Canadian side full of hotels and entertainment, then they aren’t offering a course worth your money!

(Just my own personal pet peeve – that these courses cost a fortune for what they actually offer – and leave APs hanging to try to complete their credits.)


Dorsi January 14, 2012 at 1:32 am

I actually think this course sounds great. 4 CEUs should translate to 40 contact hours. That’s 2/3 of what you need (at least by APC definitions). And it uses up roughly 2/3 of your money. If you are a NY resident (though, in my state, APs are never residents). My Au Pairs can take adult ed classes (intro to painting, etc — that is about all, because everything else requires residence to be even remotely affordable.) The cheapest adult ed courses are about $7-$10/hr. So I think this sounds great.

I don’t think that the course administrator needs to know why NY has a state park and Canada has a commercial park (I don’t know and I have enjoyed Niagara Falls several times.) You can complete a trip to Niagara Falls in 3 hours from the Buffalo airport for about $5 in round trip bus fare — and it should be the Au Pair’s job to sort that out.


MommyMia January 14, 2012 at 2:15 am

I think it sounds great, too. I read the “resident” statement to mean that if you chose to reside = room on site your meals were included, otherwise commuters (those who could drive in daily = board elsewhere, would pay the other rate. Perhaps the OP can shed more light, or those truly interested will check into it and let everyone know the details.


hOstCDmom January 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm

My understanding is that CCAP and APIA count 12 contact hours as a “credit equivalent” if the course is offered by a post-secondary accredited institution (we have used these two agencies, so they are the only ones I know about).

In our area, that means that continuing education classes offered by community colleges are a good option for APs. Continuing Ed classes are are less expensive than for credit classes bc APs are not considered in-state residents at any of the colleges, community colleges or universities near us so they are charged the non-resident tuition for everything but ESL classes (special in state tuition rate applies for ESL classes).

So my math indicates that the above mentioned course would be worth 3 credits (similar to the weekend course offered by the College of St. Rose in upstate NY, which one of our APs did in years past).


Taking a Computer Lunch January 14, 2012 at 11:50 pm

My problem with these programs that are aimed at APs for a weekend (and several of my APs have done these) are that some sell themselves as promoting English language skills (yes, there is some oral communication and a little writing – but APs who have gone to our local community college have come out so far ahead that there is no comparison). I had one AP who got burned on a trip – no tickets were purchased, very little activity was organized – and so it ended up being a very expensive trip and then she had to shell out money from her own account to meet the 3.5 credits (which then became 4 credits because what course is 3.5 credits?)

For APs who aren’t particularly interested in improving their English and just want to have fun, these courses are fine – IF they’re not getting ripped off (meaning, that they have to pay to tour the city out of pocket).

And yes, if it’s “education” it should “teach” something – even if nominally.

If I were an AP, and I found this trip compelling – then I’d want to know is a trip on the Maid of the Mist included, how about Cave of the Winds? Does it go to the Canadian side? Will it go to the Canadian side and be there at night for the fireworks? Is there a hotel included, or are the “accommodations” a nighttime bus ride? (yup, some APs have experienced that).

As a HM I always ask my APs what their goals are before they sign up for a course. I basically know what they’re going to get at the local community college, but I feel like I’m getting ripped off when my APs take a trip course and they’re left in the lurch because it’s so disorganized that it’s too late to get tickets to do a local activity in the time allotted – when I think it should have been included!

It doesn’t appear to be up to the agencies to vet these organizations – and State Dept. approval waxes and wanes (so even if one AP may do it, the next may not be permitted).


NoVA Twins Mom January 15, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Our current (leaving this week) au pair did the Borough of Manhattan Community College class that includes a trip to Niagara Falls that’s linked to somewhere above. It included maybe 3 Saturday classes near the Smithsonian, guided tours of the museums, then an educational (I think…) trip to see Niagara Falls and learn about how the Native Americans felt about it. It did go to the Canadian side and there were a few bumps at the border (not a big surprise when multiple busloads of teenagers, some requiring visas to get into Canada, cross the border).

I think only au pairs in the New York or DC area can participate because they have to do the classroom component too, but if your au pair really wants to go to Niagara Falls and you live in the right area, look into this one.


Au pair in Australia August 1, 2012 at 3:08 am

Hi, I have just finished my au pair year and I found very useful the Online Au pair course I took free of charge at http://www.aupair-australia.net/online-aupair-course.html in case someone wants to take it I recommend it


DCAuPair August 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Hi there, I’m a soon-to-be AP in the Washington DC area. From this thread it sounds
like a lot of HPs live aound there.
Do any of you perhaps have some ideas on more challenging courses than your basic english or tourist type stuff? I really want to use this opportunity to do something worthwile. I have a BA and a BHons in psychology, so something in that field would be awesome! I do have some money saved up for a more expensive course. Any ideas would be much appreciated!


Taking a Computer Lunch August 1, 2012 at 3:35 pm

The bottom line, if you are not a native speaker, most colleges require that you pass the TOEFL or their test at a high enough level to avoid ESOL (English as a second language) courses. I’ve hosted 7 au pairs to date, and even those who came in fairly fluent in English did not pass the test to skip all the ESOL classes. If you’re determined not to study English, then take and pass the TOEFL before you come to the U.S. You may find that you have to take a beginning English composition class before you are able to take advanced courses in your favorite subjects. They’re not picking on you – these are requirements of most American undergraduates.

If you’re a native speaker, then bring official transcripts with you. Graduate-level (as opposed to undergraduate – earning a BA) courses are much more expensive, mainly because they’re limited to universities and taught be experts in the field. Many graduate programs will permit you to take one or two courses without matriculating into the program (actually applying and entering). I would recommend that you bring one or two letters from your university professors stating you are capable of doing graduate-level work. Be prepared to spend a weekday talking to the professors in the program, and understand that you’ll be taking a class with a seat available – not necessarily your first choice. Matriculated students get priority.

Take graduate courses at a state university rather than a private university (e.g. the University of Maryland, College Park rather than American University, Georgetown University, or George Washington University). The difference in price will astound you. Actually, the cost of American universities will astound you anyway. Almost anyone in America can go to college or university – provided they have the money.

Ask your LCC to help by providing names of universities in the area. You can do a lot of legwork at home by looking at the Web site, emailing the faculty, and assessing the likelihood of your being able to achieve your goal. They can tell you exactly which documentation to bring with you. You can also determine which semesters start before you arrive and therefore won’t work.

As a HM who has hosted a couple of students who have taken a full (ESOL) course load, be prepared to study on your own time – a lot! Grad school is a heavy load. I made it clear to APs who wanted to turn their AP year into a gateway to American university that I wasn’t paying them to study. You will sacrifice a lot of hang-out time with friends and opportunities to travel if you take more than one graduate level course a semester!


DCAuPair August 1, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Thank you so much for the comments! I am currently at an English university, but I will try to do the TOEFL test anyways as it’s my second language. Luckily I have some time before I leave to sort all those things out and to do some research on what exactly I want to do.


Taking a Computer Lunch August 1, 2012 at 8:26 pm

If you got your degree from an English university then you’ll likely find community course and basic level university courses tedious and dull. You might find 300 or 400 level undergraduate courses engaging enough.

Having experienced university in Ireland, private and public university in the U.S., and community college, I will say the level of expectation varies enormously. My APs were challenged by ESOL classes at Montgomery College, while I took foreign language classes there and found myself pushing to go beyond the basic level of expectation (I already had a several advanced degrees, just trying to stay ahead of a child learning in a language I did not know).

You do have the opportunity to do something completely different, and Washington is awash in those opportunities. You could study Mandarin, Farsi, photography, painting, horticulture – think outside the box. European education is regimented compared with American education, which forces students to explore beyond their major.

You have your whole life ahead of you. Personally, rather than spend a semester taking courses at the beginning graduate student level, you might have more fun pursuing classes around hobbies and interests, traveling, and becoming immersed in American culture. Beginning graduate work might well feel like a repeat of your advanced BA coursework (BTDT).

Just for the record, I did exactly what I proposed before – I took 2 graduate level courses before I matriculated. The first one was miserable – the only space left for me was in a course that was tedious and dull. Many American universities begin their semesters either late in August or early in September. So, if you’re thinking you have plenty of time, you may find yourself looking for courses for the Spring semester, which usually starts in January.

Ask your LCC for help. Ask your new HF. Do a Google search on Universities in Northern Virginia (there are a lot of satellite campuses of other universities there). Do your homework, but be prepared to be flexible.


DCAuPair August 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Thanks for all the advice, I’ll let you know what I end up doing :) As you said, I need to be flexible and accommodate my HPs and work schedule, so it’s probably better to wait until I’m there to decide. I don’t want to get my heart set on a course which isn’t practical for me to take. But its great to know what options are out there, I appreciate it!


Returning HM August 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm

DCAuPair, it depends where in the DC area you are (DC, Maryland, or Virginia) and what you want to study. Our wonderful EduCare au pair, who, so sadly for us, just finished her year today and is now sitting in JFK airport waiting for her flight home, took eight classes this past year, and all of them were challenging and worthwhile. The classes she took, in fact, were so great that she ended up changing her areas of study for university (to which she is returning) from German and history to the topics she studied while here – English and art – because she was so excited and stimulated by her classes.

Since she was living in Montgomery County MD, our AP was able to take classes at the in-county rate at Montgomery County Community College. She was also able to take TOEFL classes (very challenging) at Georgetown for a reduced rate (I believe the Au Pair in America discount is 30%). At least in our case, our LCC was very proactive with our AP about giving her suggestions for where to take classes and what the timing had to be to qualify for the credit-bearing classes. I know the APs in DC proper do not get the same in-county rate at MCCC, but I’m certain there are universities and colleges in Northern Virginia that have good rates as well. I’m sure your LCC can guide you.

All of our successful APs over the six years we have hosted have been very interested in the educational component of the program and have taken interesting and weighty courses. It’s really up to you as the AP to track down those classes and not just sign up for the easy ones that come along to you. Many APs do not care about the classes and are happy with the weekend-trip offerings, but in your case, you will want to ask your HF, or if they don’t know, your LCC, how to do research on the better offerings in your specific area. If you’re in Montgomery County, I can tell you that you will be very happy with the offerings available.

Good luck, and I hope you have a great year. The DC area is a great place to spend your AP year.


DCAuPair August 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Thank you so much for that. I will be on the Virginia side of things :) I’m so happy to hear I’m not the only nerdy au pair looking forward to the education part! I’m glad you had a good au pair year and hope that your next one will be the same.


Calif Mom August 2, 2012 at 9:10 am

Nerdy au pairs rock! I’m sure you’ll be a great role model for your host kids.


DCAuPair August 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Thank you, I really hope to be one!


Calif Mom August 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Georgetown University offers many of the community classes that au pairs can take (cheap) over in Northern Virginia. Check out their website (it can be hard to find; it’s not in the International school. Use “au pair” as a search term and you should be able to find it.


SA au pair September 30, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Reading through all the threads here, it’s good to know its not just the au pairs who are concerned about the education requirements. I’m a second time au pair in the New York area. I was here from 2008 til end 2009. I am South African and my first language is English. I qualified as an elementary teacher in 2007 and had no interest in studying further during my first au pair experience. I did the weekend courses at CW post campus on Long Island to fill my requirements. This time round I’ve been teaching for almost 3 years and wanted to further my teaching degree while over here looking after my HF’s two cute little boys. So far I have been hitting my head against the wall in frustration. Anything that I have thought would be useful or of interest has been declined by the agency due to it being online (I work 11-7 every day and attending classes is not a viable option unless they are in the evening). I have been told to just “do something to fulfill my education requirements” but I don’t want to waste my HF’s money and I don’t want to waste my time. Unfortunately, the classes offered at tertiary education establishments are very expensive per credit and take place during the day. Unless I want to improve my English. Then it’s cheaper. I understand the government stipulates being in a classroom situation but, surely for those of us wishing to extend and improve ourselves, there should be a viable option online?

The au pair programmes is a great one in which to expand your horizons and meet new people and challenges, I just hope they can adjust the requirements for education to benefit more young ladies coming over.


Taking a Computer Lunch September 30, 2012 at 11:07 pm

The agency declines online classes because the State Department forbids it. Yes, graduate level classes are very expensive in the United States. You might see if a 400-level undergraduate class would suit your needs – at some universities the class might include both undergraduates and graduate students.

Most au pairs are not in your situation. You have a choice, absorb the cost of the grad class (after your HF $500 contribution) because it benefits you personally and professionally. (You may find that you pay less U.S. income tax because you take a grad class – I don’t know how it works for APs.) Or, view the class as an opportunity to do something fun that you would not do at home. One of our APs took a voice class and had a great time.


DCAuPair October 1, 2012 at 4:23 am

If online classes are against the program rules, why does APIA advertise online classes with UCLA on their AP webpage? It starts with “You may prefer to study online during your 12 month US stay. Au Pair in America’s exclusive partnership with UCLA Extension provides a unique customized educational and community immersion program for au pairs….”

Also, when I asked my host dad about education requirements, he replied that he is under the impression that most au pairs take online classes. It’s quite confusing…


Taking a Computer Lunch October 1, 2012 at 7:03 am

APIA’s program is the one exception of which I am aware. Not only will our local community college not let APs take online classes, they may not register online (of course it gives APs a special “in county tuition” break that many other area colleges do not).


LuvCheetos October 1, 2012 at 9:02 am

Our AP is taking the APIA online class this year. We have never had an AP choose to do that. It does have a volunteer component, too, I believe, so they have to do some things in person. I could be incorrect about that as I am going on the word of my AP. It’s possible and I’m confused becuase I know she was also looking for volunteer activities to fill her days when the kids are at school and some time on the weekends.


SA au pair October 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I have looked at the APIA course and, while it does have its merits, I will still struggle to get the time off to do the community part. I have looked at the Westchester Community College which does some fun adult classes (yoga, painting, photography, writing and even one about the upcoming elections) in the evenings but, I would need to do about 6 to 8 different classes to meet the requirements for education. I may just bite the bullet and do some of the other weekend courses so I can get my credits done and dusted. I just feel it is a pity that we cannot take courses online or through correspondence, especially for those of us who are English speaking.
But, I’ll find something interesting to do! This is a great opportunity and I don’t intend to waste it :)


hOstCDmom October 1, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Have a look at BMCC if you are in Westchester- Borough of Mangattan Community College. They have a few courses that are about Washington DC history and architecture that meet on say 3 or 4 Saturdays or Sundays, and after you have learned all about the city/history the course take a weekend long field trip to DC to see all you have learned about! The courses cost about $300 and are worth 3 credits. BMCC campus for these courses is in Harlem, near 125th st station on the Metro North line, so if you are near a train station in Westchester it should be pretty easy to get to. Just a suggestion you may not have heard about if your LCC doesn’t know about it.


A Host Mom October 2, 2012 at 9:23 am

All of my au pairs have done the BMCC class (It’s called “Learning Across America”) and it satisfies 45 of the 80 required classroom hours. They offer class with trips to Washington DC, Niagara Falls and Boston.


Taking a Computer Lunch October 2, 2012 at 11:46 am

I had an AP that did a trip to NYC. They did so little for her that I thought it was a waste of time. They gave the APs a bus tour, but arranged nothing else. By the time they told them what the (lack of) arrangements were it was too late to book a trek up into the Statue of Liberty (open that year). I felt like they could have been more up front about what the weekend would contain, so the APs had a chance to make arrangements, or to offer APs an opportunity to pay extra for something like a meal in China town (which could have cost less than many private meal arrangements), a side trip to the Statue of Liberty, etc.

I would tell APs to do their homework and see what the trip really offers. If it’s really just an opportunity to explore a city on your own, you can probably do it more cheaply on your than using up your HF’s portion of your educational stipend for a trip.

In our city, many APs can take on class for just under $500 and meet all of the requirements. I’ve been hosting for 11 years and it can still be done.


hOstCDmom October 3, 2012 at 1:17 pm

To my knowledge, the BMCC class involves 12-20 classroom hours learning the history, culture etc., followed by the trip. I don’t know how good it is (none of my APs have done it) but have heard good things bc we are close enough that it is an option and several APs have considered it/know APs who have done it.


TexasAuPair November 9, 2012 at 12:32 am

Hey there,
I am an Au Pair since september this year and I am looking to get into some courses and it’s just a painn … to get into that college in Houston.
I am just confused that lots of you wrote about Online lessons, because my LCC told me that this isn’t possible.
I was really looking forward to take some Spanish lessons and learn something I can use later, but if that is so hard I’d rathe look for something easier. Lots of the other Au Pairs here go for 2 weekend classes to Dallas or somewhere else but after that they at least have their credits.
I need a good solution for this, it really bothers me!


au pair November 9, 2012 at 11:24 am

Oh i know, it is a real pain! Here is what i did: i went to a nearby community college ( there a cheaper) i asked them which application i need to fill out etc. ( tell them that you are here on an i
J-1 visa, otherwise they asume you are an international student, which you are not, thats a total diffrent process.) then you have to hand in all your grades, social security numer etc. and when they checked your aplication, you are good to go! You probably have to take a placement test atthe college, which limitsyou to specific classes. Apply now, becausethe deadline is soon! Let me know ifyou have any further questions! Good luck!


LuvCheetos November 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Which agency are you with? My Au Pair is taking the Au Pair In America on line course. It was $500 for all of the credits. It already started, though, and runs through February, so I’m not sure if that would be available to you.


LeAnne January 9, 2013 at 9:51 pm

We’re going through a similar experience as we try to match with an au pair that has to finish all of her 6 credits by March 1 in order to be able to apply for an extension to stay with us for a full year (we have not had an au pair yet and are trying to get this one we like). However, our agency, AuPaircare, told us online courses are not allowed and weekend courses in L.A. or D.C. would require us to pay round-trip air fare and lodging, etc. So much for the online idea!


Taking a Computer Lunch January 9, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Unless her current HF blocked her ability to take classes (in which the agency might grant her an extension on completion), this AP does not sound like a go-getter. Berlitz offers a one-week immersion course, but at $4,000 +, it’s not likely to fit into any au pair’s budget. Maybe your LCC has ideas. Talk to her LCC and see if she has any input on why this AP hasn’t started to meet the requirement.

As for paying airfare, my LCC advises us that it is appropriate to pay a transportation fee that matches one for a local course. For example, if it costs $20 a year to pay for a parking pass at a local community college, plus gas of say $5 per week for 14 weeks, then that is the total you’d be expected to contribute to transportation for one of those glorious destination weekend courses in a distant city. The AP would be expected to pick up the rest of the tab. You’re not required to go broke so your AP earns credits for visiting NYC or Niagara Falls. If the AP goes above and beyond you might want to treat her to the airfare, but there’s no requirement to do it.

Bottom line – this match has red flags to me! Talk to your LCC about what your requirements are toward this AP, and then make an agreement with her before you match!


Leyla January 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Hi! I’m an Au Pair in New York…I have 2 credits left and I ask my current LCC with Cultural Care if I could take an online course from an university which will give me a certificate after complexion, and she was told it’s not possible. I would have to take in person classes…


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