I am considering purchasing a new laptop that will make it much easier for me to do school work, but if I am going to put the money into it I also want it to be able to play some games. The most intense thing I would ever be running on it is WoW, but I am looking for a laptop that would be able to run it at Average graphics, at around 50-60 fps constantly. My budget for this computer is around $500. Thanks for your responses.
Laptops in the 500 dollar range are truly awful. It works like this:
Since this is a laptop that you want to do school work on directly, which I assume involves a lot of typing, you definitely want to invest in something that has at least a 15.4 inch screen, preferably 17.1. If you don't, you will mess up your wrists horribly and regret not making that extra investment not only for the rest of your school life but the rest of your life period.
My suggestion is to find a way to free up a couple hundred extra bucks and buy one when they're all on sale after Christmas. If you can raise your budget from 500 to 800 you can get something that will last you 3-4 years without requiring service and most importantly will be comfortable to work with. HP Laptops such as the one that Pyree linked to you above are within your price range, but have downright horrible construction and in my experience are extremely uncomfortable due to a low quality plastic shell and inadequate cooling.
When you do shop, remember that your primary objective is to find something that "will make it much easier for me to do school work", not something that will give you repetitive strain injury or Carpel Tunnel Syndrome in exchange for small savings.
As far as brand names go, avoid HP like the plague. They have a bad name for a reason, they're the Ford of the PC industry and nothing will hurt you more than being unable to write an essay because your laptop screen is broken.
Asus is fairly new to the scene but their pricepoint is high and so is the quality of their products. I was personally underwhelmed by the EE-PC lineup but the more expensive Republic of Gamers laptops are very nice for their price (which is outside your budget but you might get lucky).
IBM and Lenovo laptops are anything but pretty but they are extremely rugged and as such are used very heavily in industry and commerce. Consider looking around for a used Thinkpad, you won't be disappointed.
Sony is starting to make a name for itself in the Laptop and Notebook market. They're better constructed than HP and while not particularly powerful, they are probably spot on for your needs. Keep an eye out for them going on sale after Christmas.
I've heard mediocre things about Toshiba but I've never really had to service any either, so I'll just throw that out there.
dv6 has aluminium chassis. Have one and don't seem to over heat (i7-2630QM with 6770m). Size is ok for a 15 inch. You don't have gigantic hands right? Then you should be fine with the keyboard. Get external keyboard and screen when you use it at your room for long assignment, if you find the need to use one.
I just went through the process of picking a laptop for someone else and my options were narrowed down to the refurbished HP that has been discussed and the Acer that sync_nine posted (second link). I ended up being able to stretch the budget a little bit and picked up a Lenovo IdeaPad Y570 for about $700 (i5-2430M, nVidia 555M graphics). My little bro will be firing it up on Christmas morning; I can report back to you after then on its performance.
Pinhedd is right, you'll be much better off pulling together an extra couple hundred dollars and getting something of much higher quality. If you absolutely cannot go higher and are comfortable with a refurb, the HP that has been talked about it probably your best bet. Otherwise, just save up for a little longer and get something that will perform better and last longer.
I am very sceptical on the claim that a GT525m able to pull 40FPS on high for Battlefield 3. The faster 6770m can most certainly not play at high sustaining 40FPS, let alone a slower GT525m.
The GT540m on the Acer is more comparable with the 6750m in the HP (6750m is still slight faster but not by much). So if you are not comfortable with getting recertified laptop, then get that. Although I don't think Acer is any better than HP (bad personal experience with Acer).
In reality, even ASUS do fail (had it failed on me before). There is always risk of hardware failure regardless of what you buy. I will have to say, the really terrible laptop makers had already been eliminated by competition and you should be quite ok with every brand. ASUS (and ASUS do fail, LOL) and Lenovo is my usual brand to recommend. However, for your budget, it is more important to get your performance first.