a hundred credits ahead of me (US education system)

Mossa

Senior Member
France French
Afternoon everyone,

The scene takes place in America. Isabel's a US Marshal and she introduces Joyce to a friend.

ISABEL: Joyce and I go to criminal procedures night school class together, only she’s about a
hundred credits ahead of me. (she laughs, kind of embarrassed)
JOYCE: Yep. I’m gonna make a career change.

How do you understand the words in bold? Joyce is extrêmely dedicated and she attends every class or she's just scored much better at the exams?

According to Wikipedia, in the US "Various systems of credits exist: one per course, one per hour/week in class, one per hour/week devoted to the course (including
homework), etc."

Thanks a lot for your help!
 
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  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    The usual system of advancement in U.S. undergraduate education consists of earning credits. Usually, one earns three credits per course. A bachelor's degree requires 40 courses, for a total of 120 credits. This would usually be four years of full-time study, longer in night school.

    "About a hundred credits a head of me," if it is meant literally, would mean that Joyce is close to earning her degree but Isabel is just starting. However, I doubt that it is meant literally.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    I would think that Joyce has taken more courses than Isabel. You don't get credits based on the number of classes you attend in one specific course; rather, the credits are earned for taking the course itself, regardless of attendance. (Of course, if you fail a course due to bad attendance, you will not receive credits for it.)

    "About a hundred" is obviously not meant to be an exact amount. It's good-old American hyperbole for "Joyce is more advanced than I am."
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    You don't get credits based on the number of classes you attend in one specific course; rather, the credits are earned for taking the course itself, regardless of attendance. (Of course, if you fail a course due to bad attendance, you will not receive credits for it.)
    True, but often the number of credits given for a class is directly correlated to the number of hours per week the class is scheduled to meet: a 3 credit hour class will normally meet for 3 hours a week (well, three 50-minute periods per week, but never mind). There are differences for lab sessions and so on. I think that's what the Wikipedia entry is trying to say.
     
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    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    The usual system of advancement in U.S. undergraduate education consists of earning credits. Usually, one earns three credits per course. A bachelor's degree requires 40 courses, for a total of 120 credits. This would usually be four years of full-time study, longer in night school.

    "About a hundred credits a head of me," if it is meant literally, would mean that Joyce is close to earning her degree but Isabel is just starting. However, I doubt that it is meant literally.
    I think this is really what it means here, that Joyce is in her last year of study, or final stage of study.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    criminal procedures night school class
    Do you all think this is an undergraduate course, as opposed to continuing adult or further education, or whatever it's called in the USA, for working adults seeking additional qualifications?
    Universities don't do evening classes in the UK and I never heard of such a thing at US undergraduate colleges, although I believe courses completed elsewhere could count as credits towards a degree. My daughter has done a non-university course in the USA which gives her credits towards a degree and so do her UK educational qualifications. If I am right about the night classes, then it seems unlikely that we can say categorically that Joyce is in her final undergraduate year.
    We also don't know how many credits are needed for her to complete the course she is taking.

    Anyway, 'one hundred' or 'hundreds', is frequently used metaphorically (?) to mean 'very many' or 'a lot'. I might say "I last went hang gliding about a hundred years ago", meaning a very, very long time ago, only about 45 years, in fact. When I was about 20, I met the mother of a friend the same age as me. I was extremely surprised how old the mother looked compared with all the other friends' mothers I knew and my own, and remarked to another friend that she looked like my grandma, about 'a hundred'. In those days, 'hundreds of years' ago, before everybody got obsessed with looking young until their death bed, grandmas looked old. My own grandma was in fact 91. This woman was about 70, certainly old enough to be my friend's grandma. It just happened that she had conceived her only child, my friend, when she was about 50.

    Let's say a neighbour wants to borrow an egg or two. She asks if I have any to spare. I might reply "Of course, I've got hundreds!" I just mean I have plenty to spare. In fact I might ony have four or even only the "one or two".

    Hermione
     
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    Mossa

    Senior Member
    France French
    Thanks for your input, Hermione Golitghtly!

    For further comprehension, after those lines Joyce says : "I'm gonna make a career change. (...) I'm gonna be a lawyer." [She's currently making up dead people in a funeral home.]
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Do you all think this is an undergraduate course,
    Yes, this is not uncommon at all. Someone I work even takes post-graduate classes at night.
    If I recall the episode correctly, one or both of them are working toward becoming lawyers.

    Anyway, 'one hundred' or 'hundreds', is frequently used metaphorically (?) to mean 'very many' or 'a lot'.
    I agree that this is hyperbole. If someone is impossibly far ahead of you in a 1000 meter race, you might say "He's a hundred miles ahead of me." She might say "almost 100" this if the other person has only 15 credits as it might take a couple of years to get 15 credits at night school. Additionally, it's not very likely that someone almost ready to graduate would be taking the same class as as someone just starting out unless it was an elective course (a course unrelated to a person's major) and I think they are studying law so it's probably not an elective.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    I think it is very common in bigger cities like New York -- I don't know about other universities where all the students live on the campus -- that students, regular undergraduate or graduate students, take classes at night, or on Saturdays. I am convinced she is just a regular student not anyone taking continuous education classes at night. Such courses usually do not require a hundred credits. They could be in law school, which is a graduate school in the US, at least most of them start as graduate schools, not from an undergraduate level.
     
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    Mossa

    Senior Member
    France French
    (...)I am convinced she is just a regular student not anyone taking continuous education classes at night.(...)
    Just to make things straight : Isabel is a US Marshal and Joyce (who, according to Isabel is way ahead of her in her course ("about a hundred credits ahead of me") is a mortuary makeup artist in a funeral home so they're not regular students, they just take these night classes beside their daily job.
    Joyce wants to a lawyer, we don't know what Isabel wants to do with this course.
    Edit : And the story takes place in Miami.
     
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    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    In the US, somebody who is a mortuary make-up artist can be a regular evening student, even a student in a law school. Law schools usually have lower credit requirement, usually 60-80 graduate credits.
     
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    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    My wife attended law school entirely at night, at DePaul University in Chicago. She was employed full-time in the insurance industry at the same time. She certainly felt like she was a "regular" student. That's not unusual at all; DePaul's total enrollment in the Law School's evening division right now is 185. And parenthetically, the program requires 86 credits total.
     
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