Looks like you are getting a laptop for school. Go XP Pro, please. There are so many people with security-lax computers at the college I work for that Systems is now requiring XP Pro on all student computers if students expect to use the network. Security is better in Pro and I guess Systems believes there are a few other things that make Pro a better bet. From my standpoint, I have access to more system-level items and I can customize and fix it just that more.
Here's a tip. Learn your computer's IP Address and you can remote desktop into it from practically anywhere on campus (since all campus computers should now have Win XP). If you don't see it, do what I do on my computer to go to remote desktop--Start: Run: mstsc. (Microsoft Terminal Services Client? I don't really know that acronym.)
Since I have dealt with plenty of student computers in the past, I believe I can answer questions you may have to general campus computing policies and what to avoid. In fact, in just one year, 80% of my calls could be solved with anti-spyware programs, compared to 5% the previous year. I just could not believe it. If the person had XP Pro, I could at least change the "Administrator" account settings to prevent unauthorized hacking by putting in the default name and password.