I had the same frustration when I began BJJ--I'd go to a class, learn a coulple techniques that were usually too hard for me, and then we'd free-roll and I'd either get tapped out really quickly by the advanced white belts and above, or me and another beginner would fight like our lives depended on it until someone managed to get a RNC or quit from exhaustion. It's like going to your first boxing class and jumping into the ring to spar on your first day!
Shortly before I left Seattle to move to PA my BJJ instructor worked with his instructor, David Meyer, to come up with the "Basic 12" techniques that all his new students had to learn before they were allowed to free-roll. Unfortunately, I was only able to learn about 6 of the basic 12 techniques before my wife and I moved. However, about 3 months ago my hapkido instructor and I bought David Meyer's "Masterclass Grappling Curriculum" and began working on our blue belts in his system. There are 3 levels of techniques, about 45 techniques total, to get you to blue belt level and you get a log book where you have to log 150 reps of each technique, pass a midterm evaluation by Mr. Meyer, go back and do another 150 reps of each technique, and log 50 total hours of free rolling time. Then, you're eligible to test for your blue belt. Now, I realize this is no substitute for training at a good BJJ/grappling school with a good instructor and skilled students but I see it as serving at least two functions: 1) it allows people who don't have access to a BJJ school to train using a well-thought-out curriculum, and for someone like you who does have access to a BJJ school it could be a fantastic supplement to your training and a way for you to get a solid foundation in the basics. Check out www.grappling.us
for more information. Be warned though, it's a bit pricey--like $300 for the manual and DVD, though once you buy the curriculum you have phone and e-mail access to David Meyer who is really fantastic about getting back to you quickly to answer any questions you might have.
Good luck with your training!