Cornell University

Mental Health at Cornell

Resources for student & campus wellbeing

Academic WellBeing

Tips for students

Consider the following tips* for addressing your academic well-being:

Know the academic support resources 

Resources in your college

Each college/school at Cornell has specific Academic and Student Support services:

Related campus resources

Make personal connections

  • Get to know your professors (and/or TAs). The more you can connect with instructors on a personal level, the many more ways they can help you succeed personally and academically. Go to office hours. Ask questions in class. A professor can also become a mentor for you, helping you choose classes, obtain internships, and potentially help you find a good fit for graduate schools or future employment.
  • Find a study buddy for each class. Your goal should be to have a "study buddy" or a study group in each of your classes. A study buddy does not have to be your best friend; just a partner in sharing class notes, studying for exams, or preparing for projects and presentations.

Customize your studies & approach to learning

  • Know what fuels your mind and heart… and where you struggle. Take some time to review what fuels you intellectually and where your strengths lie, as well as the places you struggle, (e.g., with time management, procrastination, or perfectionism). The more self-aware you are, the easier it is to get support where needed.
  • Set some goals. Achieving a certain grade point average is only one measure of accomplishment. Consider other measures too, like exploring outside your major or minor, or taking on a required class you've been avoiding. Stretch yourself, but don’t take on more than you can handle. Your faculty advisor may be a good mentor. Also consider reaching out to the Learning Strategies Center or an academic advisor in your college (see list below).
  • Adopt a time management system and make the most of your days. Whether it’s an electronic calendar, an old-fashioned paper planner or an app, it’s important to develop a system of keeping track of important dates and deadlines, and a way to prioritize your time. Make the most of your time between classes and schedule in time for adequate sleep and other essential self-care practices.
  • Establish study spaces and times that work for you. Your bedroom may not be the best place to study. Find quiet places to focus without the temptation to sleep or socialize. Setting consistent study time can help prime your body for learning.
  • Take purposeful breaks. Take purposeful breaks. Move your body. Laugh. Dance. Spend some time in nature. Study for an hour or so, then take a 10-minute break. Breaking your time up into increments of study and purposeful breaks will help you retain the information longer than cramming the day before a big test.

Tips for staff, faculty, and TAs

Staff, faculty, and TAs can support the health and well-being of students by adopting small changes in the classroom to enhance learning and foster mental health.

Cornell’s W.I.S.E. (Well-Being in Scholarly Environments) Initiative is a campus-level initiative through which staff, faculty members, and teaching assistants can support well-being through their teaching and advising practices. W.I.S.E. promotes small changes in the classroom to enhance learning and foster mental health.

Goals of the W.I.S.E. Initiative:

  • Increase social connection among students and between students and faculty members

  • Foster a growth mindset in students to adapt to setbacks and persevere in the face of challenges
  • Encourage help-seeking and self-care practices; normalize asking for help and utilizing resources
  • Help students reflect on their coursework in relation to their sense of purpose and life

W.I.S.E. Strategies for Teaching Staff, Faculty, and TAs:

  • Support a sense of belonging in the classroom:

    • Provide opportunities for students to get to know each other (e.g., have students get the name and contact information from 1 or 2 other students in class they can contact if they need to miss class)
    • When possible, learn students’ names in your class
  • Support a growth mindset in the classroom:
    • Encourage students to ask for help when needed
    • Communicate a value for learning from mistakes or failures
    • Normalize the experience of wondering if they belong here (e.g. imposter syndrome), especially for new students
  • Support a sense of purpose in the classroom:
    • Provide opportunities for reflection about the connection between the course material and students’ broader interests and career goals
    • Emphasize to students the importance of utilizing office hours and getting to know faculty members to develop mentoring relationships
  • Support self-care and stress management in the classroom:
    • Have a syllabus statement on the importance of self-care and a list of campus resources on your course website
    • Remind students of the importance of sleep in relation to academic performance and mental health and well-being
  • Build meaningful, not transactional, relationships
    • Remember, your students are human and so are you.
    • When serving in an advisor/mentor role, focus on celebrating the strengths of the student and providing feedback in a kind and compassionate way.
    • According to Gallup research, college graduates who strongly agreed that a professor cared about them as a person were 1.9x more likely to be engaged at work and 1.7x more likely to be thriving in their well-being.

The W.I.S.E. initiative builds on similar work being done at Simon Fraser University and the University of Texas at Austin.


In the news

March 2022: The College of Engineering recently announced a reduction in the Credit Limit for undergraduates, beginning Fall, 2022. Associate Dean for Student Services Miranda Swanson and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Alan Zehnder cited Cornell’s Mental Health Review recommendations, which were released in March 2020, as part of the reason for the change.

Other academic recommendations include considering a pass/fail grading basis for first-year students, use of a grading curve, transparency and fairness in attendance policies — particularly with regard to health and wellbeing related absences — and consistency and transparency in regard to the amount of time required outside of class per credit. Review Recommendations At a Glance from the Mental Health Review.