I purchased my iPad over the summer to use in school and I have similar needs to yours and i love my iPad. I havent invested in a cover for it yet so I can't comment on that but if you're going type your notes I do suggest a keyboard. I have the mic aluminum keyboard buddy and it's great. I had no problem keeping up with lecture. As far as note taking apps go I just use Evernote. I'm a film major so my notes are pretty straight forward (no need for graphs or diagrams) so Evernote works just fine for me. Plus it's free and I'm able to sync it with my iMac. I agree with others that have suggested trying to spring for 32gb. If you can't afford it then 16 should be fine but it never hurts to be careful and get a little extra room. Good luck with school and with your ipad!