When an au pair comes to the US, he or she comes to live with a Host Family for year or more. He or she provides flexible, live-in childcare to the Host Family, up to 45 hours per week and the family provides room and board and a weekly stipend to the au pair.
Au pairs are also required to complete 6 credits for the year, or 12 credits if he or she is a part-time or EduCare au pair. The Host Family is responsible for up to $500 toward the course, with the au pair paying out-of-pocket any additional costs. The Host Family is also responsible to provide the au pair transportation to and from the class.
When an au pair arrives in the US, one of the first things I suggest he or she do is get a social security number, after he or she has been in the country 10 days. This will allow him or her to open a bank account, get a state-issued driver’s licence and sign up for classes.
Since time goes by when you’re having fun and a year is not very long, I tell au pairs to sign up and take their coursework as soon as possible. This needs to be done with the Host Family schedule in mind, which can be flexible. Au pair credits should be complete by the end of the 10th month if the au pair intends to extend with his or her current family or with a new one.
One way many au pairs complete their coursework is through travel courses. It combines their love of travel and requirement for credits. Each weekend course is usually 3 credits, involves some at-home or minimal in-class time, as well as a travel component, often to places like Boston or Niagara Falls.
Taking two travel courses between months 3 and 9 is the most effective way for au pairs to complete their credit requirement and make minimal impact on the Host Family schedule in order to accommodate everyone. Because the cost to attend the travel course may be greater than weekly attendance at a university, many au pairs offer to help pay the travel expenses or split them with the family.
Here is the most highly recommended au pair course(s) local RI, CT and MA au pairs have taken:
There are other options available, too, like these:
The College of St. Rose, Silver Bay Campus in New York (3 credits)
Long Island University, CW Post Campus in New York (3-4 credits, depending on course taken)
Bunker Hill Community College with classes in Boston, MA
If you’re really set on sitting down at a college or university, let me suggest the University of Rhode Island and their A.C.E. Language Institute. However, the university charges $3000 for coursework, involving 18-21 class hours per week for up to 8 weeks, and the travel courses range in the hundreds and can be completed in half the time! Be sure to involve your Host Family to help in comparison shopping for the class that fits your situation best.