I came across phrases like this:

I haven't read it, but a lot of 130s students love it.

Most of my exposure to this book comes from tutoring and grading for 161

which are just a little hard to swallow for an average 257 student

Are these numbers some sort of American class system or what is the meaning of them?

EDIT: I found this here. I am not familiar with the US education system, sorry I can’t bring more information. I am confused by this number system.

1 Answer 1


These numbers refer to specific courses at a specific school.

Without further context, we can't tell which courses they refer to. If someone talks about 257 to you this way, they probably expect you to have sufficient context to figure out which course―very likely you and they would be attending the same college, so the numbers would have specific meaning for you.

The numbers are different at every school, and there is no fixed meaning associated with any of them, although in general higher numbers are more advanced, and the number 101 is now used symbolically to describe something as basic knowledge ("That's fishing 101―you need bait to hook a fish!").

You'll need to look up the course numbering system used by the school in question, or look up a list of classes if you want to find out what an exact number refers to.

  • At least I have some clue now. I added some more information, it is not much but it’s all I can offer.
    – solid
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 9:44
  • You'll have to look them up. Like, here. The numbers might have changed since your webpage was written, and it looks like they might have added a couple zeroes to the end of each number. But that doesn't have anything to do with English, and you'll have to figure out the rest yourself.
    – user230
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 9:48
  • Ok thank you for your afford. For a nonnative English speaker it is sometimes hard to estimate if something is a specific English term or not. For me it would also be possible that these numbers represent some sort of general education system.
    – solid
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 9:58
  • The general concept of these numbers is certainly familiar to any American English speaker, so I think it's fine to ask about, but the specifics vary from school to school, so a number like 274 doesn't have any particular significance to a native speaker unless they happen to be familiar with the specific school and course in question.
    – user230
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 10:18

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