I'm not, and have never been, in a position of authority at a school of higher learning (though I did graduate from college ...eventually). However, there are a few thoughts that crossed my mind:
One, a 300-level class is an advanced class. I would definitely expect extra work, possibly including work that involved traveling beyond campus. There are few situations which require students to take 300-level classes outside their major or minor, and I would expect to possibly have to go "above and beyond" in 300- or 400-level courses.
Two, I can understand the extra 15 hours of "academic service-learning" outside of normal homework, if those 15 hours were (on paper, anyway) in lieu of 15 hours of normal assignments. A semester is maybe 4 months. That means an extra 4 hours a month, or maybe 1 hour a week ...in the vast majority of circumstances, given some planning, this is not much to ask. The head of the department probably knows (and definitely should know) something about this, as it's slightly outside the norm. And they probably signed off on it.
Three (on the other hand), springing this on students after they signed up for, and paid for, and arrived at class, is unfair. Especially since many or most students, depending on the school, work as well as go to school.
And four, if you don't physically have time to take it up with anybody, including your mentor (who I think you implied is in that department?), you're screwed. Make time. If it continues to be unresolved, the department head is next. Unfortunately, if your teacher, your mentor, and your department head disagree with you, then going to the Dean will be totally useless.
And five: You have certain periods of time, during the day, or week, or month, that you can choose to devote to whatever you wish. I understand you have very little free time, but there's rarely any such thing as an inability to make time for something you *have* to do. If the suggested times for this off-campus learning don't coincide with the times you can make available, then why not do a bit of research into institutions which will allow you to do service when you *do* have time? There are still places which function in the wee hours of the night, for example. Or one four-hour Sunday afternoon per month. Then, bring that proposal to your teacher, and see what happens.
*edit* ^+1 to mistergreen. If you can avoid the issue without annoying any of your instructors, all the better. If you're at a big school, switching classes between semesters should be fairly easy. If it's a small school, maybe not so much, but still worth investigating. I went to a small school (<2000), so I pretty much sucked it up when I had to, even after I became an adult student, which is when "life" and "school" didn't overlap nearly as much.
Last edited by kevmo911; 10-28-2012 at 11:53 PM.
Reason: agreement with mistergreen