2) If you want portability, get a netbook. You'll never get the speed per dollar a desktop gets if you get a laptop you so you might as well get the cheapest thing you can that will let you shell/VNC into something that has decent performance (eg the desktop you bought with the money you saved from not buying a full laptop).
netbooks are WORTHLESS. there ARE laptops available for almost the same price as netbooks, which while at the bottom end of the laptop power spectrum, have FAR more than a netbook and also such basic features as an optical drive and a display you can ****ing see from more than 3 feet away.
on a different note, i took my desktop to school (also NCSU). I also got a laptop for school work, but in retrospect you really don't need one except maybe for computer science. even then it wouldn't be mandatory, just make life easier. i certainly didn't end up actually needing it for engineering. there was only one class i ever took that it was required (a 3d modeling class), and i'm pretty sure there are sections of that one that are non-laptop. using a laptop to take notes doesn't really work in core engineering classes, unless you get REALLY good at LATEX. it was kinda handy for history and such though. by the end of my first year i stopped carrying it to class every day, and it became my laze back in bed and type up reports computer. could also take it to the library or lounge to do work outside of my room (away from distractions).
laptops are convienent for college but far from mandatory.
one final note, don't buy a laptop from the bookstore. they are way overpriced and garbage. my lenovo is slow as **** and drives me NUTS. they really over-inflate the recommended/required specs for students. really, just make sure if you get a laptop, it has a discrete graphics chip. i probably only even needed that for the modeling class.