Xocrates wrote:By default I had 6 different courses by semester,
At every US institution that I have had any involvement in, most courses are 3 hours per week (actually, 2.5 hours, as each "hour" runs only 50 minutes). Thus, 6 courses would be an 18 hour course load. This is beyond what is needed to be considered a full-time student, and would generally be considered a very heavy load.
Xocrates wrote:each with 4-6 hours of classes per week
That is interesting... how do you end up in class 4-6 hours per week per class? What kinds of classes were these? Most of the 4 hour classes that I know of here are intro level classes (calculus, for instance). Thus, while you might meet in class for 4 hours per week, the work is easier, and you spend less time outside of class.
Xocrates wrote:But we usually did had to deliver lab reports (often 2) every week or two,
Lab classes are generally handled differently here, and for good reason. A normal 3 hour course meets for 3 hours during the week. The expectation is that for every hour you spend in class, you will spend two or three hours outside of class getting homework done. Thus, a 12 hour course load is a full time job (12 credit hours * 2-3 hours outside of class + 1 hour in class = 36-48 hours per week = full-time job). Lab classes are generally only worth one credit hour, and are generally taken in conjunction with some other course, turning that three hour course into a four hour course. Thus, the course should occupy about 8-12 hours of your week. If you spend three hours in lecture, plus 3 hours in lab, you still have 2-6 hours for other homework, which will probably be plenty of time. Even if you aren't taking the course that goes along with the lab, it occupies three hours in class, pluse another two or three hours to write a lab report (maybe 6 if you are really, really slow, or the lab report is really, really in depth). Thus, lab classes need to be considered slightly differently when taking into account how much time a student actually spends working.
That being said, I am generally a pretty diligent student. I also keep logs of how much time I spend working (it keeps me from spending too much time on trivial things). Last semester, I had a 12 hour course load. That is four classes. For one class, I worked less than two hours outside of class each week. For the one math class that I was taking, I tended to spend about 6 hours outside of class each week, on a pretty consistent basis. Another class had a lot of work due at the beginning of the semester, and less toward the end. At the beginning of the semester, I was spending about 10 hours per week on this class, but by the end of the semester, it was down to less than three (most of which was reading). The last class required a lot of work, and I spent between 10 and 15 hours on it each week, only two or three of which were spent reading. All together, that is a 38-43 hour week. I've had heavier semesters, and I've had lighter semesters, but that is pretty typical of the semesters that I have had in the past (looking over the numbers, my average workload has been around 55 hours per week).
Another thing to think about: how long does it really take you to write a lab report, or finish a homework assignment? And how much time are you spending in front of a computer and actually doing it? One of the reasons that I started keeping logs was that I felt I was spending way too much time on homework. So, I started writing down when I was actually working. It turned out that I was generally only working for 15-30 minutes at a time, then allowing myself to get distracted by other things (the interwebs, television, whatever). But, because I never really got completely away from the work, it felt like I was still working. If nothing else, keeping logs kept me on track better. ;)