Getting Help

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1) Who (and how) Should I Ask For Help?§

6.101 is a challenging class, and it is totally normal to need help at various points as you're working through the material; and we are happy to help you as questions come up! However, 6.101 is a large class, which makes it important for us to find effective ways to communicate. Please follow the guidelines on this page when asking for help (and note that the best way to get help depends on the kind of question you have).

1.1) In-person Help§

For technical questions (about course content or tech support), the best way to get help is usually by talking with another person one-on-one. In 6.101, we offer two important ways to get help from staff in person:

  • Open lab hours are a time to come and get help from course staff on labs as you are working through them, and they can be used at all stages of the process. They are a good time to get help with planning out your program's structure, help with implementing your strategy in Python, help with testing and debugging when things go wrong; and they are also a good time to get stylistic feedback about your code as you're writing it, or after you're done! Open lab hours can also be used for other conceptual questions, e.g., about the readings or recitations, or about related material, among other things.

  • Instructor office hours are also available for conceptual help. Unlike open lab hours, these times are not intended for specific help with your code for a lab, but rather for other kinds of conceptual questions.

The schedules for open lab hours and instructor office hours are available on this page.

1.2) Help via E-mail§

Of course, though, not all questions or requests are best handled by staff in person. Some questions come up outside of normal class hours, some are about personal situations that you may not wish to discuss publicly, or so on. For these kinds of questions and requests, we also offer ways to get help via e-mail.

As a general matter of policy, please do not e-mail individual staff members unless there is a good specific reason to reach out only to one staff member. We ask this not because we don't want to hear from you but because there are a lot of you and far fewer of us; and this means that it is important to have an organized means of communication. Instead of sending e-mail to individuals, please use the mailing lists described below, which help us keep things organized and get help to as many of you as possible, as efficiently as possible. When replying, please use "reply all" to include the mailing list in any responses.

  • is for general technical or logistical help (about course content, tech support, etc.). Examples of good topics to send to this list include:

    • I need help installing/configuring (some piece of software)...
    • I'm confused about (some general Python topic)...
    • I'm confused about (some course policy)...
    • In lecture, we did (some example), but I didn't understand it...
    • In this week's lab, can someone clarify (some unclear instructions)...
    • I can't find (some 6.101-related resource)...
    • I'm concerned about my performance in 6.101 or my understanding of the course material...

    If your question(s) involve code you've written for a 6.101 assignment (or detailed plans for code you plan to write), please do not use this list but rather come to the open lab hours described above, as that is by far a more effective and efficient way to get detailed help and feedback about your code. For these kinds of questions, you can try sending an e-mail and attaching your code (as a Python file, not a screenshot image), as well as a description of what's going wrong and what you've tried to test/fix it. But debugging via e-mail is generally very inefficient compared to in-person help, and we can't guarantee that we'll be able to provide detailed help with individual students' lab code over e-mail.

  •, which reaches just the instructors and course assistant (so no fellow students serving as teaching assistants), is for sensitive requests that involve personal or medical situations. If you've spoken to a Dean at S3 or DAS about the issue, please feel free to CC them. Some examples of topics that are relevant for this list include:

    • I've been really sick, and I'm falling behind in the class...
    • I have a conflict on the day of a recitation...
    • A personal or medical issue has come up and I am requesting an additional extension on an assignment...
    • I have a disability and require accommodations in 6.101...
    • I'm feeling overwhelmed and want to talk to someone on staff...

2) Additional Tutoring§

Additional technical help may also be obtained from external resources, in the form of tutoring services.

The MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science provides one-on-one peer assistance in many basic undergraduate Course VI classes. During the first nine weeks of the term, you may request a tutor who will meet with you for a few hours a week to aid in your understanding of course material. You and your tutor arrange the hours that you meet, for your mutual convenience. This is a free service. More information is available on the HKN web page.

Additional support may also be available through the Talented Scholars Resource Room (TSR2), sponsored by the Office of Minority Education. For further information, go to this page.

3) Equal Access and Accommodations§

The staff of 6.101 are committed to the principle of equal access, and we are more than willing to make arrangements to help accommodate students with disabilities or other challenges. In general, knowing about the kind of help you need earlier in the semester means that we'll be better prepared to provide that help effectively. So please help us out by letting us know about your situation (and, if appropriate, meeting with a representative from Disability and Access Services) as soon as possible.

If you have a disability and are not planning to use accommodations, it is still recommended that you meet with DAS staff to familiarize yourself with their services and resources. If you have been approved for accommodations, 6.101 staff are ready to assist with implementation. Please send these approved requests to the email address to inform us, and we will work to implement these accommodations.

For exam-related accommodations, we need to receive documentation two weeks before the exam in question, per guidance from DAS.

4) Mental Health§

MIT is a challenging environment, and 6.101 is a challenging course. As such, it is normal to expect some level of stress (and a lot of hard work) during 6.101. A certain level of stress is healthy and is part of the learning process (if it were easy, you probably wouldn't be learning much!). However, too much stress can be a bad thing, and if you are feeling overwhelmed, we want to help, so please don't hesitate to reach out.

Additionally, if you or someone you know is struggling with mental-health issues (including significant stress, mood changes, excessive worry, substance/alcohol abuse, or problems with eating or sleeping), we strongly encourage you to contact or visit one or more of the following resources, who may be able to provide additional guidance and support: