Imagine going back to college just for the pure joy of learning, with no concerns about homework, GPAs or dean’s lists. Well, that’s what you can do at One Day University — and for a fraction of what you spent on your kids’ tuition.
Steven Schragis, Westchester native and director of One Day University, was inspired with the idea for ODU more than 10 years ago, when he dropped his daughter off at college. “The school had professors spread around the campus, giving 15- to 20-minute talks about what they teach, and it was really fun and interesting,” says Schragis. Wanting to turn the experience into a business, Schragis did a test run of the idea in 2008, at Doral Arrowwood in Rye Brook, placing a single ad in the Westchester section of the New York Times and calling in a handful of exceptional professors from Ivy League universities to give talks that condensed their specialties into one-hour bites.
One Day University offers a variety of interesting courses for adults.
The courses are eclectic yet fascinating, ranging from “How to Watch Movies Like a Film Professor” and “What the Founding Fathers Were Really Like” to “The Science of Pleasure: Why We Like What We Like” and “The Jewish Brain: Neuroscience, Philosophy, Ritual, and Ethics.”
ODU is able to deliver this content to the public thanks to strategic partnerships with some of the US’ most venerable periodicals, including the Boston Globe, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Charlotte Observer, and Arizona Republic, among others. The result is that One Day University now has 62 domestic locations and has even expanded to cities outside the US. Attending an ODU event costs less than $200, with each program featuring lectures by academics from such elite institutions as UCLA and Notre Dame. Schragis refers to his unique marketing model as “edutainment,” and with an enrollee return rate of 70 percent and a business model that has seen revenues increase twentyfold in the past five years, ODU seems to have found its niche.