NEVER but NEVER a 17" laptop for going to college of university.

I council you the little Dell XPS M1210 or the Inspiron E1405. There is also the HP Pavilion dv2000t. A very nice brand is Lenovo with the ThinkPad serie. Built for business, Lenovo laptops have a very very good quality and after-sale service. Look also to the Toshiba Satellite U200/U205, the M110, and some Tecra models. You can also look to Sony but they are very expensive. Finally, there is the powerful MacBook in the 13.3" format. Very nice laptop with ( according to me ) the best operating system ( once you have discovered the entire OS ).

Stay between the 12.1 " and the 14.1" screen size. it will be easier to carry.