Posted by Tim (126.96.36.199) on October 01, 2000 at 10:56:04:
In Reply to: I really want to know... posted by Andreas Isaksson on October 01, 2000 at 10:32:48:
In Western colleges and universities, classes are often given numbers that reflect the level of difficulty or the year that a student must reach before enrolling. For example, there might be a sophomore class in physics called "Physics 224". The number often reflects relative difficulty within a discipline, or the existence of related courses. For example, there might be two related psychology courses that should be taken close together in time and be numbered consecutively: Psychology 221 and Psychology 222, for instance. All other sophomore level psychology courses might then start with 230 and go up.
Therefore, any beginner's class where the absolute basics are taught is often given as "thus-and-so 101", meaning that it's the first possible number that a new student can take. I don't know why we don't imagine the class numbering starting with 100. I suppose it's less pleasant to the ear.
In some cases, there is a need for remedial work before the actual college-level work, and these are sometimes given numbers starting with zero: English 032.
For the record, many universities stopped using "101" precisely because of its connotations, just as older buildings occasionally don't have a 13th floor listed in the elevators, because the number 13 is imagined to be unlucky. We just change the number to suit.
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