In general, the best thing to do, is focus on preventing the laptop from being stolen in the first place, not worrying about what you'll do if it is stolen.
Talk to the campus police, see if they'll take down the serial number to keep on file should it ever be stolen. If they do this sort of thing, register anything of significant value with them. Do this yourself, and keep it at your house, Dad.
Also, make sure to drill it into your kid's head to absolutely never, under any circumstances, leave the laptop alone. If it will be out of your sight for any period of time, either take it with you, make sure someone trustworthy is watching it, or make sure it's in a secured room.
Those simple things will do far more than any bit of software or device that can be disabled.
Has anyone heard of a Lojack product for Laptops? My son is going off to college and I was wondering if this would be a good product?