College of Engineering cuts credit limit, citing mental health issues

On Thursday afternoon, the Deans College of Engineering announced a change to the number of credits that undergraduates can enroll in, beginning with the fall 2022 semester. Previously, the maximum credit limit per semester was 23 credits, but under the new policy, students will be limited to 20 credits.

The policy change places the college of engineering’s credit limit below that of the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, both of which have a 22-credit limit.

Associate Dean of Student Services Miranda Swanson and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs Alan Zehnder cited Cornell’s Mental Health Review recommendations, which were released in March 2020, as one of the reasons for the change.

“Faculty has spent the last year discussing recommendation A.1.1,” the deans wrote in their email to College of Engineering undergraduates. “One of the results of these ongoing discussions is that the College’s Curriculum Board has updated the credit limit policy for undergraduates.”

Recommendation A.1.1 calls on college and school principals to create a centralized mechanism for institutional oversight of academic policies that may have a negative impact on student mental health.

Some recommendations include reviewing a pass/fail grading basis for freshmen, use of a grading curve, transparency and fairness of attendance policies – particularly with regard to absences related to health and wellness – and consistency and transparency regarding time required outside of class per credit.

Students wishing to register for more than 20 credits may submit a “Petition for more than 20 credit hours in one semester” available on the Registrar of Engineering Forms web page.

In their email, the engineering school deans wrote that freshmen, first-semester external transfers, students attempting to enroll in a combination of two or more project teams, a credit of research or teaching assistant credit, students pursuing concurrent degrees, and students with a previous semester grade point average of less than 2.0 will not have their petitions approved.

“Taking more than 20 credits in a single semester is not recommended, even for students with a history of good academic performance,” Swanson and Zehnder said in the announcement.

Students will still be able to register for a maximum of 24 credits with academic excellence workshops or a physical education course. However, the email states that under no circumstances will students be allowed to register for more than 24 credits.

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