If you are going off to college, I would suggest that you reduce your concerns about the gaming qualities and increase the studying qualities of your laptop.
For half the amount you are willing to spend you can get a laptop that, with the properly motivated owner, can see you all the way through a doctorate! Do something good with the monay you save.
Think positively. Make the best use you can of your youth and your opportunities. Use the college for studying and don't waste your time on gaming. Get along with the important things in life.
I know that this isn't the kind of an answer you were expecting or anticipating, but as a retiree, with one BS, two MAs and a doctorate, I allow myself to offer some (unrequested) advice that comes with the experience of age. Your education will be the most important thing to atttend to in college.
I wish you an open mind, emotional maturity and SUCCESS.
I agree with efmesch, but you have to relax somehow. Doing that with a few games rather than going out drinking etc. might be a good move.
I can't suggest a laptop but I will say that getting the newest processor (CPU) you can is a good idea. New models support new instruction sets. If a subject you're doing at school requires software using a particular instruction set, you'd be annoyed if your laptop couldn't do it. I'm thinking here of audio visual processing stuff mainly, so that may not be your thing anyway.
Regardless, for gaming get the best GPU you can for the price, 2GB RAM minimum (4 is ideal) and a nice sized hard drive. Remember you can always add an external drive for storage, but the other stuff (like GPU) you're pretty much stuck with so get the best you can.