Just happened to see this post while exploring off of the NY board, and I thought I would respond from a similarly novice perspective.
For starters, I agree with Brynna and JiveTurkeyOnRye that part of the issue was that you attended the Intensive 101. Full disclosure: I just completed the 8-week 101 at the NY Center, and I absolutely think I needed all of those 8 weeks to figure things out. I have no acting background, and my only performance background is in competitive debate. For the first few weeks, all I could do was be overly aggressive, loud, and greedy in scenes, because that's what I'm used to doing when in front of an audience. That's where the benefit of the 8-week class kicked in: it afforded me time to reflect on my performance each week, to come up with new ideas and new approaches and try them out the next week, and to see a lot of UCB shows to see how my betters got the job done. It took about six weeks for things to start clicking, and I can say with absolute certainty that if the time frame had been condensed, like with an intensive class, it wouldn't have clicked.
Earlier posters in the thread have also talked about the purpose of 101. Everyone forms their own opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the performers we see: we're hard-wired to create hierarchies as human beings. But training classes - especially 101 - aren't about separating the wheat from the chaff. They're about providing everyone with a common baseline to build upon in later classes. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to take a course on Relatavistic Mechanics without first doing Physics 101, even if I'm the second coming of Isaac Newton. There was a noticeable spread of talent in my class, but that's fine: seeing the good people made the less-good people better, and working with the less-good people made the good people stronger because they had to be better communicators.
I'm naturally a bit of an egomaniac, so it hurt like the dickens to get taken down a few pegs those first few weeks of 101. To be completely frank, I'm not that good at improv, despite the best efforts of my teacher and classmates. But those best efforts did make me a better performer than I was when I started, which is really all that one can ask out of a 101 class. Like you, I hadn't planned on taking a 201 class up through about the halfway mark of 101. But those last few weeks, where it all started clicking? Hell, I'm doing 201 because I think it'll be fun.