HCC Splits Lab Times From Classes, Making It Tougher for Students to Fit It All In

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Storm McAdams is a 35-year-old working mother of three who is trying to advance her career by becoming a nurse. To do that, she's taking science courses at Houston Community College — but she says a change in class scheduling makes completing coursework more difficult for her and her classmates.

"They didn't send out an email about it," McAdams said. "They didn't let anyone know."

Before this academic year, HCC's biology department scheduled lecture and lab portions of classes together. But starting this fall, HCC split the lecture and lab sections of the four-credit courses into separate sections at different times, spokeswoman Claudia Deschamps said.

"The changes were implemented to allow HCC to streamline and standardize our laboratories so that the lab instruction is consistent throughout the college, leading to increased student success," Deschamps told the Houston PressShe added the courses affected anatomy, physiology and microbiology courses. 

McAdams said she feels lucky because she still only has to come to campus twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But her Tuesday lab stretches until 2 o'clock in the afternoon, forcing her to take more time off from work as an esthetician. And some of her classmates, McAdams says, have to make three trips to campus — something she said would be impossible to swing with her full-time job.

Although it's especially tough for someone going to school with children, the scheduling change affects a lot of HCC's nearly 70,000 students, many of whom have full- or part-time jobs in addition to going to school.

McAdams's experience, and that of classmates she has spoken with, also doesn't quite match up with HCC's responses.

Deschamps, the college spokeswoman, said biology is the largest science course offering, with classes scheduled during mornings, evenings and weekends. She said students should not need to travel to more than one HCC campus, since lectures and labs are taught at the same locations.

McAdams, however, said some classmates have told her they need to travel to different campuses for the lecture and lab sections.

Deschamps said HCC posted about the changes on its website, but did not know when. She said academic advisers were also informed of the changes and were supposed to inform their students who were enrolled in biology classes. Deschamps couldn't immediately confirm that advisers had in fact done so.

McAdams said she does not have an academic adviser, and that many students do not regularly visit the campus website. She said she did catch a notice about the scheduling change on the site when she registered for classes in July, and feels thankful it caught her attention. Otherwise, McAdams said, she may not have known she had to register separately for the lab portion.

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