Taking classes in the U.S. as an au pair is a program requirement and a great chance to better your English, pursue your passions, or even travel while learning about America. The education requirement should be fun for au pairs but can sometimes become a source of stress or disappointment if au pairs wait to long to sign up or don’t think about what they truly want from this experience. Below are some tips from our staff and current au pairs that can help you make the most of this opportunity.
Tip #1: Don’t wait
Registering sooner will give you more options and more flexibility.
Get it done as soon as you can because sometimes au pairs take time for granted and at the end, find they have to hurry to take courses they’re not really interested in. Have in mind what you want to study and try to go for it as soon as you’re established with your host family. Your LCC will also help you through the way.
—Monica Vargas, Cultural Care au pair from Mexico
Tip #2: Do your research
Take time to look at your options and think about what you want out of your classes. It might mean talking to your LCC, other au pairs in your group or doing online research but it’s up to you to decide where to register.
People who want a truly American college experience should do some research before they come here. Find out what colleges are in your area, what classes they have, what requirements they have for enrollment and most importantly find out about the deadline by which you have to register.
—Milena Auvray, Cultural Care au pair from Switzerland
Tip #3: Ask for help if you need it and don’t be afraid to contact schools directly
Your host parents, LCCs and other au pairs can be a great resource when choosing a class. But don’t be afraid to call a school yourself for answers.
If you aren’t sure about something don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help from your host mom or dad, LCC or other au pairs. If they don’t know, call the school. University and college staff want to be helpful.
—Kamila Ioannidis, Extension Program Manager at Cultural Care Au Pair
Tip #4: Consider all the details
It’s important to think about cost, transportation, schedule and whether your chosen class will be approved.
If you are not interested in taking full-semester classes (which I encourage you to do; it’s a great way to meet people and keep yourself busy), travel courses are a great way of traveling, very cheap and they’re usually 3 credits. You can be done with two travel courses!
—Camila Ansaldo, Cultural Care au pair from Argentina
Definitely ask other au pairs in your group who have been here longer for advice. If you want to do a weekend class, ask around and go with other au pairs to split gas money and have a new experience together as a team. Try to schedule your first weekend class in your first half of your year and your second one no later than two months before finishing your year.
—Thomas Birkhofer, Cultural Care au pair from Germany
Tip #5: Save some money for classes if possible
It’s a good idea to be ready to supplement the cost of classes, especially if you have your heart set on something specific. Classes in the U.S. are expensive and the less costly options might not be as interesting to you.
I would recommend saving some money before coming so you can invest in a interesting course. I would take a course other than English. If you take a course with mostly American students, you will be learning English anyway. That is what I did in my second year and it was an extraordinary experience. I learned from and had the courage to speak with other Americans. My accent improved as well as my vocabulary. It was more expensive but worth it for me.
—Mayte Hernandez, Cultural Care au pair from Mexico
We wish all au pairs luck in finding the classes of their dreams while here in the U.S.! If you are an au pair who has taken a great class during your year, let us know about it.