Also the flexibility to simply carry my games with me to some of the nicer areas on campus if need be might be an asset worth the wieght of having to carry it around
This is what I like about my laptop, too. I just graduated high school as well, but I've had my laptop for almost 2 years. It's a big 17" one, but it's really nice to be able to take it in front of the TV, or to a friend's for LAN parties or whatever. So far I haven't had any major problems carrying it around, but then, I haven't had to take it to class every day yet.
When I was doing research into what kind of laptop to get, I definetly found that Kyro was right. Dedicated gaming laptops are not the way to go. For a little while I considered an Alienware, but they were bulky, low battery life (like an hour, that's just bad), and most importantly, really, really expensive.
What I ultimately went with was a mid-higher range multimedia laptop. It can't play Crysis on the highest settings, but it can play all of the games I want; a list very similar to yours, Sins, Elemental, Demigod, GalCivII, Dragon Age Orgins (again, not on highest settings, but good enough), and stuff like that. It is also great for movies and pretty much whatever else I want to do. I can use it just fine for 3d modelling (not proffessional modelling, just for mods and such).
If you decide you still want a laptop, I'd say the biggest factor in deciding what kind to get and what technical specs it has is how much you (or your parents ) are willing to pay. Because no matter what kind you get (with maybe the exception of a netbook), you will be able to find a comparable or better desktop for significantly less. My laptop was ~$1600, but I found a $500 off coupon online. Which is another thing you should look for, because there are lots of deals out there if you look for them.
So anyway, the actual specs of my computer:
- HP dv9700t
- 17" screen (1680 x 1050 resolution)
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (it came with Vista x64, but I upgraded, students get a discount )
- 4GB RAM
- Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 2.5GHz
- 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8600M (a piece of sh!t, because Nvidia didn't make it very well. It's good enough for most of my games, but when it gets too hot it is suseptible to melting. It doesn't help that HP didn't design the cooling system very well. All this I learned, of course, after I got the computer. Make sure you do a lot of research to see if your potential system has any widespread problems)
- 320GB Hard drive
I also got an extra battery with it, each battery last 3-3 1/2 hours on a charge.
Aside from the graphics-card-melting-and-frying-the-motherboard problem that both companies knew about but refused to acknowledge, I'm pretty happy with my laptop. Like I said, it can play all of my games (it can run Sins on Highest, btw), along with pretty much everything else I want it to.