As an au pair, you need to get 6 college credits to comply with your J1 visa. If you decide to extend then you will have to gain extra credits. Before Covid, it was very popular to do weekend classes in another city and explore, or to take classes at an American college. Both of which are now not possible. So how do you get your credits, well like everything now, online. I also may be writing this while procrastinating…
As with the whole educational world, the au pair classes have also moved to online classes. Which, in my opinion, sucks to put it bluntly. I signed up to be an au pair before the pandemic and I was looking forward to going to a nice American college campus, being able to make friends there and to experience American college culture. And then if I needed more credits I would travel to another state and a new city. Well, that didn’t happen. But, I am still taking classes that interest me and are very educational and helpful to me. But before I get into that, I will give some more general information about where you can get your college credits.
Online Au Pair classes
Many au pairs come to the United States to learn English and fortunately for those, there are plenty of English as Second language courses to take. I have linked some below that I found. Even though it’s tougher to do online, you miss more of the interaction side of learning the language. It is still a good opportunity for grammar and vocabulary. Just make sure you keep practising with your host family and friends, everyone wants to help! Here are some good websites: EFIonline and International Language Institute.
Specific Au Pair online classes
Some websites offer classes special courses for au pairs in a range of subjects. One of my best friends is currently doing a Social Justice Netflix class where she has to watch many movies and documentaries and comment on them. I have also seen, cooking classes, social media classes, skin care classes. You name it, they may have it. And it is all on zoom and at fairly decent hours when you are probably not working. Websites you can check out are Classroom Au Pair and Au Pair Classes.
At an american college
Yes you can definitely still take classes at colleges, the only thing is that they will be online. With this option you can take very specific classes related to a broader study. For example different business courses, within the business bachelor program. You can use this to see if you have an interest in a particular field or to learn more about something that you have already studied. I am not going to put any links in here, because that would be almost endless. Also, even though it is all online, this is another way that you can meet people in the area if you choose to follow courses at a nearby university.
In person Au Pair classes
Before the pandemic it was very usual for au pairs to go for a weekend trip to earn their credits. They had classes across the country in Boston MA, Los Angeles CA, Salt Lake City UT and Tampa FL to name a few. On these trips you explore the cities, meet au pairs from all across the country and have a good, fun time while gaining the credits you need. I am really hoping that this comes back soon so I can experience it at least once during my au pair term! Obviously, only if it is safe to do so, but i’m hoping that that will be the case before August 2022.
How I am earning my credits
As I mentioned earlier I am taking classes that are very interesting to me. Before I became an au pair I graduated from Teacher college, specializing in Elementary Education, and pedagogy (the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.) Before I arrived, I had expressed to my host parents that I would love to continue learning and to take classes relating to my bachelors. I am so incredibly lucky that they were able to get me enrolled to audit classes at Duke University! In the fall 2020 semester I took the class Educational Psychology and I am currently taking Anthropology and Education. For which I should be reading an article for at the moment (oops).
Personally, I love that I can use my knowledge from my previous studies and build on that during my time as an au pair. With the classes that I am taking at the moment, I will receive enough credits for my first year. As I am extending (read how I asked my host family here) I will need to gain another 6 credits for my second year. I hope that I will be able to do at least one weekend class, but I am also very happy with auditing more classes!
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