College students are told relentlessly to enjoy their time in school. "Once you're in the work force, that's it," parents and grandparents and teachers warn them. "I would trade with you any day."
That day, as it were, just got a lot closer.
One Day University (ODU) — the ultimate day of college, minus beer pong and homework — is a program that brings together top-ranking professors from some of the country's most respected colleges for one-day programs that recreate an academic atmosphere for those who are, as the hype on onedayu.com puts it, "nostalgic for a time when life was more about learning than job performance."
A day at ODU is relatively affordable — four lecture courses and lunch for $259, a far cry from the wallet-draining cost of a full top-tier enrollment. On top of that, ODU students need not sweat bullets over any standardized tests or submit any applications to bask in the enlightenment. Sessions are held in a dozen cities throughout the country several times each semester. Upcoming Boston-area days are scheduled into 2009 for December 7, January 17, March 7, and May 2. Each day's schedule is devoted to a slate of specific disciplines, such as science, history, music, and economics.
Shawn Achor, professor of positive psychology at Harvard, was approached by ODU directors after his psychology class on happiness garnered national attention for enrolling one out of six students on campus. "I love seeing the attendees make my research come alive. They're listening to the lectures not to get better grades, but to get a better education. It is what college should always be like," he says. "[ODU] students have a lot more life experience, so when I talk about psychology research, they nod their heads and smile, connecting the research to their own experiences in their work life and family life."
Professor of political science Matthew Baum — also at Harvard — is participating for the first time in December with a lecture on media, public opinion, and foreign policy. "My experience with adult education is that I get people who are very attentive and are already well-educated," Baum says. "I think continuing adult education is a terrific thing. Whether ODU is the answer to all continuing education, I don't know, but I do think that this sort of concept is the right idea."
"ODU provides a missing gap in education where we often think that school is over after our last degree," says Achor. "You are getting a higher quality of teachers than even Ivy League students normally get during a semester."
This year's next local One Day University session (science, history, poli-sci, and psychology) takes place on Sunday, December 7, from 9:30 am to 3:45 pm at Babson College, in Wellesley. Registration fee is $259. For information on other one-day programs and to register, visit onedayu.com, or call 800.663.3298.