OK, so it sounds like you succeeded with the install using the boot prompt option, but now that you are trying to start your new system, you are getting stuck? Often, linux installers will plop in whatever kernel it is that the boot disk for the installer itself uses. In that case, you might want to use the same startup options to start your new system as you used for the install.
According to past threads here, any and all of the following boot options might be helpful:
and, if having trouble with 'hda: lost interrupt' error messages,
If you just need it to work for a school project, then chances are you don't need sophisticated peripheral support, like firewire and stuff. I would just disable like crazy. The core OS should work fine.
In my experience, hardware frustration in the early stages is the #1 reason people get turned off from Linux. It's a shame, because the real power of Linux comes in the high level software, in the flexibility and extendability that is possible within the unix environment. When people have vanilla hardware and use a fairly streamlined distro, they usually find it a breeze and can get comfortable much more quickly. That's why companies like Apple and Be and SGI and Sun couple the OS with the hardware, so that you always have one if you have the other. Eliminates a whole class of problems. But anyway - that's all tangential
Let us know how you make out.