For some just a chance to get rid of those annoying credit points, for others a big reason to become an au pair in the first place: college classes. Being my family’s 10th au pair, I found my host dad to be a well informed mentor when it came to choosing a way to earn my required 6 credits and it worked out perfectly!
No matter, whether you want to improve a skill, learn something completely new, get to know people or just save money and time, here is my guide for choosing the perfect au pair course for you!
First of all,
one of the most important things is to check everything with your host parents. When will your courses be, where will they be, how will you get there, how long is the commute and how will this affect your work schedule are important questions. Keep in mind that depending on the course you could get big assignments that take time and energy to finish. Also talk to them about the tuition costs. Cultural Care requires that your host family contributes up to $500 per year, but most courses are more expensive than $250 and you usually will have to take two of them.
The J-1 visa requires its user to finish 6 credit points (equivalent to about 60 hours of class) at an educational institution. Most college courses will get you 3 credits, so talk to your host family, communication is important!
With that in mind, let’s get this journey through the maze of the glorious American education system going.
For the Ambitious
If you want to actually learn something and see this au pair year as an opportunity to study at (even some of the most renowned) schools, one very exciting option would be classes in a university’s evening division or non-graduate-program. While every class is different, there are some common features in both options that could make the difference in your calculations:
allow you to join an already existing college class together with other “real” students, which means there is a lot more variety of even specific classes to choose from. These classes can be really expensive, on average maybe around $1000 for 3 credits (as a non-resident. Inform yourself about which colleges are less strict about that, it could safe you about 80%!). The application process is a little complicated, since you will have to enroll at the university or college, plus you are very likely to be taking an acceptance test, especially in language- math- or science-related classes. But don’t panic now, it is not as intimidating as it sounds. A huge advantage of those classes is, that, under certain circumstances, your credits can actually count for any college degrees you might want to achieve later in life. Depending on the faculty, this kind of classes can be on a high academic level and really teach you.
Bonus: All your classmates will probably be around your age and have similar interests, so you could get to know some people
Bonusbonus: Further this could be your entrance card for crazy college parties
are designed to be open to everybody, which means the application process will be a lot simpler. In many cases you will have to take placement tests. Depending on how well you perform in those, the level of your education can range from absolute beginner to extremely advanced. (I am lucky enough to take a jazz piano course at The Juilliard School and we are learning stuff on a bachelor level!)
you could use this opportunity to make it a one in a lifetime experience with world renowned faculty. There are many highly prestigious universities, conservatories and colleges around New York that offer one of these options. Ranging from highly academic and super expensive classes at Columbia University (depending on where you live maybe Yale or Princeton) to creative classes at Juilliard or the Fashion Institute of Technology to writing classes at the New School, but also hundreds of smaller colleges and institutions, the possibilities are endless. You will get more than a sneak peak and a half into the life at these schools and maybe even start networking with certain professors if you are planning to apply. So do your research, work out your schedule and start studying!
For the Relaxed
If you’re like many au pairs out there, you don’t want to spend money and time on something that basically ‘just came with the package’. You have enough adventure with your kids, traveling and friends and don’t need even more with college or just want to have more time to sleep? Then these options will be perfect for you.
I present: Matthias’s lazy learning list
- Weekend classes
- Sunday classes
You don’t have to research anything, just apply to some super easy weekend or Sunday classes, they are all basically the same. They cost around $300 to $600, are extremely time sparing and give you 3 (sometimes 4) credits. You will either travel to and see some big city or have local classes, whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong with these.
This is a link my lcc sends to her au pairs. It leads to a site, that offers these courses. The layout is a little messy but it is easy to navigate through.
So lean back, do a few clicks and enjoy a nice weekend trip while earning your credits.
you shouldn’t let classes stress you out. Even though, the credits are required, you get to design your very own way on how to earn them. You could make it a very big advantage or a very small, pleasant chore. So relax, you’ve made it through this post, the first bit of research is done.
PS: if you have questions or want to share your very own college-story, feel free to write something in the comments