In response to the results of a review of student mental health, Cornell University decided to reduce the maximum number of credits engineering students can take per semester from 23 to 20. The review “specifically cited academic credit limits as an effective strategy for decreasing student stress and anxiety.” Additional recommendations include “grading on a curve, mandating meetings between students and advisors, and exploring pass-fail assessments.”
These changes come amid rising concerns about student well-being and mental health on college campuses across the nation. STEM disciplines, in particular, have a reputation for fostering high-stress, high-pressure cultures where a student's academic performance in the first few courses may determine whether they graduate in their chosen field. Besides reducing credits, other institutions have pursued strategies such as use of portfolios to assess student progress and limiting the number of high-stakes tests required.