Options for Fulfilling Au Pair Education Requirement: Online Classes?
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.
So 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.
Th 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?