I purchased a Lenovo Thinkpad T430 with the following specs for around $750 after taxes:
-Intel i5 3210m
-1600X900 matte display
-300 gb 7200 rpm hard drive
-4 gigs of RAM (upgraded it to 8 myself later)
-I believe an intel ultimate N wireless card
-microphones/webcam, so on and so forth
I love this laptop. It's good enough for light gaming (League of Legends being my main squeeze on PC), is extremely durable, has excellent battery life, and a lot of little things that I enjoy (always-on charging usb 2.0 port, two usb 3.0 ports, a usb on the right side for a mouse, keyboard is phenomenal, etc). Also, the thinklight has completely changed the way I thought about backlit keyboards. I don't know if the prices are still the same, but through the Barnes and Noble Gold website I knocked off like $400 from the price:
It's free to sign up for that and it saves a ton of cash, provided it's the same way when I ordered mine last year.
Anyway, best of luck making the choice, just thought I'd throw out my experience on this lappy if it will help at all.
EDIT: Definitely make sure to levy your status as a college student with whatever company you shop at. I'm fairly certain that most brands such as Sony, Apple, Lenovo, and probably Acer/others give big discounts to students.