Office hours

This calendar tracks our staff office hours. Once the quarter is underway, our office hour schedule should remain fairly constant from week to week. We will keep this calendar updated with any changes.

Frequently asked questions about office hours

When/where are office hours?

The above calendar should be up-to-date with the time and location of our office hours. We primarily schedule our hours for weekday evenings (as prime work time for students) along with a few morning and afternoon times. Our staff is committed to the 50+ hours scheduled per week; requests for additional appointments beyond the regular schedule cannot generally be accommodated. We trust that if your question is important, you will find a way to make the time to come to office hours. Most of our office hours are in the Huang basement with a few in Lathrop tech lounge. Click on a calendar event to see its location.

What are office hours best for?

Office hours are a great place for discussion on conceptual topics or issues too complex for forum/email. They are also the primary resource when you need help resolving an issue within your code. Please be mindful that a large number of students are being supported by a relatively small staff, and we ask you to be respectful in sharing this precious resource. Remaining responsive to the needs of all students means not allowing the TA to be monopolized by the few. You should come prepared to office hours, having done your own legwork, and with an appropriate expectation of what the TA will do for you. If you're in the midst of a debugging effort, be ready to articulate what you are trying to accomplish, what you have tried/observed, what you think might be the problem, and what advice you need to move forward. Offer a well-framed context and we can respond with the advice/prodding/encouragement to get you moving forward but dumping your code and asking us to tell you what's wrong or debug it for you... not so much.

Office hours are a zoo the night before a deadline. How can I get help without the ruckus?

Any office hours scheduled close to the assignment deadlines are likely to be overrun with students focused on meeting deadlines, and the TAs will need to keep up a brisk pace to efficiently process the large number of questions. Hours at other times in the week are more relaxed, and we encourage you to take advantage of those off-peak hours, especially if you are hoping for a more leisurely discussion.

I showed my code to the TA but they didn't find my bug. I feel robbed!

I'm sorry you are disappointed, but there may be a misunderstanding about what to expect from our staff. We do not intend to be the almighty Oracle who, upon reviewing your code, will spot your bug and tell you how to fix it. Many bugs don't lend themselves to that sort of instantaneous resolution, but even for those that do, we intentionally avoid offering quick fixes. We are committed to teaching you to fish, and while handing you the fish we caught for you would solve your immediate problem, it does little to build self-sufficiency going forward. Debugging can be hard work, but it is an essential part of programming and only by working through it do you build the skills of a programmer super-power. This is our goal for you!

When faced with a challenging bug, how can you best use our staff? We can be your guide, your coach, your advisor, your cheerleader. Ask for our help interpreting the symptoms and the observations you have made. Invite us to review what you have figured out so far and brainstorm what to try next. Seek advice on which tools and what experiments will be helpful. Lean on us for moral support and encouragement when the going gets rough. And celebrate with us when you nail that bug.... all by yourself!