Ballroom dance instruction has a long, traditional history of organizing levels of skill, complexity and accomplishment in dancing, likening it to the awards structure one finds in sports, a la the Olympics. This is observed to be particular to the American style, however, the International style is sometimes referred to with medals as well. The following is a list of the various medal awards a student can accomplish...
Beginning Social or Social Foundation - this is essentially the level most students immediately aspire to. Just enough knowledge of dance to be able to handle some social functions well. This would be the lower grade school equivalent of ballroom. Generally a time investment of 20-40 lessons can be expected at this level, covering 4-6 dances.
Bronze - this is essentially meant to be an accomplished social dancer level, with variety of movements (figures), techniques and leading/following abilities, some expression and style. This can be a quite comprehensive level and can cover a very large range of dances. It is akin to high school in the modern education system, when completed. This level can take upwards of several hundred lessons to complete with 9 or so dances.
Silver - this is considered to being an advanced social dancer who can move around the floor in any social situation with grace and style. There is a new style of smooth dancing introduced, and the emphasis is on look and technique. This level can take from three hundred to one thousand lessons to complete. One has definitely discovered their hobby at this level.
Gold - this is the level of dancer's dancers. At this level, dancers are expected to be able to execute advanced choreography and all the drops and tricks that come from taking one's passion to this high level.
Other types of programs that are not necessarily medalist oriented would be...
Showcase - time spent on this program is specific to a chosen piece of music and individually developed choreography to perform with at various events hosted by this studio and others.
Competitive - this program follows the medalist system, but is maximized by developing advance movement technique and performance oriented skills. For many, this has become their preferred level due to the heavy personal advances made in their own dancing by preparation and participation in these events.
In short, there is a program that can fit anyone and everyone. It simply boils down to what you aspire to do.