If you don't have easy Internet (Web) access, this is your first challenge. Consider it as important as getting your textbooks for the semester or even getting premium channels on cable for your dorm room.
First, find a computer -- There are several ways you can go:
You will usually have to get an account from your social worker posing as a computer account manager. Follow the instructions to log in and find the Web browser, either Netscape Communicator or Internet Explorer.
Your instructor will have given you a "URL" which is the Web address for his or her course. Type this into the location box in the browser. Don't make any mistakes or it will be like putting the wrong ZIP code on a letter. No sympathy.
If you are mooching off of your parents computer, no problem. They're used to it.
When you buy a computer, go for the usual stuff, lots of memory, lots of storage, lots of speed, etc.; but also push for the high end stuff, like a DVD-ROM drive, even if you don't really need it. Just suggest that you don't want it to be obsolete before you graduate. If possible go for a laptop. It's easier to take to class to impress your teacher and easier to have stolen, so you can get a new model.
And don't get me started on Mac versus Windows!
What about Internet access?
The computer is one thing, Internet access is another. Many students in the dorms will have a network jack in their rooms. If that's what you have, you need to plug into it from the ethernet port on your computer. Follow instructions from your school's information technology office. That's the place that used to be called the "Computer Science Center" until they realized that the word "computer" was a turn off, there was no longer any real science in it, and that they were really an office, not a center. "IT" just had a better ring and was tautologically correct. It is an IT.
If you are in an apartment or at home, you will need to use a modem over a phone line. Some Webbies will talk to you about cable modems and DSL lines, but just smile at them and mumble something about waiting for direct satellite T1 connections or something. Some universities still run their own modems for internet connections, but many are turning it over to ISP's (Internet Service Providers). You can use the school's service (called "PPP"), but you might get a busy signal for the whole semester especially when you and ten thousand other students need to get on the system to finish assignments. So even if the university has a "free" service, you might want to consider getting an account with an ISP.
You can go with one of the popular national brandnames or one of the small the local ones. It doesn't much matter for academics. You will just be in the course stuff and not into their services. So toss out all of the CD-ROMs with 150 free hours and go for a cheap $9.99 a month, unlimited access. Or figure two hours of studying for each hour in class for 14 weeks gives you 84 hours, add a few hours of email and you are just under 150. So maybe you can sign up for 150 free hours and then cancel, unless they sign you up for a two year contract.