For the undergraduate concentrating in one of the sciences, the coming of spring brings no small discomfort. The warm zephyrs from the fields are at war with the fumes of the laboratory and the young biochemist or physiologist searches his course catalogue sullenly in the hope of finding a combination of studies which will leave him an afternoon or two a week to air out his lungs. But he will be deceived; he will pick a course which requires two hours of laboratory work but actually demands six, and one which calls for two afternoons at first but ultimately takes three or more. With the exception of some elementary courses in biology and physics the laboratory requirements as printed in the catalogue give him no true indication of the actual work necessary.
The real evil in this deception is that the student carrying more than one scientific course finds his laboratory periods in hopeless conflict. The Chemistry which the catalogue guaranteed could be done on Monday afternoon, has to be carried over to Tuesday, which is, according to schedule, reserved for Botany. Usually the instructors of any single course are indifferent to the presence of other laboratory courses on the student's program and even if conscious of this could make no allowance for it in the allotment of the work.
The present unfortunate condition cannot be laid to deliberate falsification by those in charge of the courses. Either they have set as the length of the laboratory period the time in which a Faraday or a Richards could do the work, basing their schedule on the talents of an ideal experimenter rather than on those of the average burdened pre-medical student; or they have bowed to the University law which permits no course to have more than six hours of laboratory travail per week, placing this maximum figure in the catalogue, when in actual practice it is the minimum for a genius. This six-hour law was enacted lest a course require more of a student than should be credited to a single course.
A temporary solution to this problem is for the tutor to have on hand figures which represent the actual amount of time required in each laboratory course. He should see to it that the real laboratory hours fit conveniently into a schedule in which the work of no one course will be crowded. The tutors in Biochemistry in partionlar, since they cannot straddle the fields of biology, chemistry, and physics with omniscience, should investigate and advise. But the clearing up of the whole confusion can only come through a correction of the advertised laboratory hours to take into consideration both the speed of the average student, and the time necessary for the arrangement of apparatus.