You never learn the "computer ate my life" lesson first hand.
I recommend you have DROPBOX with a few (2GB is free) things you can't lose.
Today there are many fine laptops out there and for college I suggest the 13 to 15 inch models and then it gets less specific from there. My personal laptop has a nice aluminum top and seems pretty nice but it's less than a year old so time will tell. But the metal cases seem to be a really good idea. Keeps heat under control and more.