The SSD drive will make it quick enough that the RAM should suffice I'd think.
You're right. If you need something with a more beefy processor or more RAM, you likely know. The battery is a bit of a bummer since SSDs usually make big battery life easier since there are fewer moving parts.
@SK You want to buy your son something that is going to be reliable and is easy to support. You don't know what he's going to end up majoring in, so don't tie him down to some kind of janky chromebook or tablet unless he wants that. I'd recommend a mac...a used mac if cost is an issue. The reason is that it can run any OS so if he decides to do computer science he'll be all set with a Unix box.
Other than that, whatever you do DONT send him down with a printer. He or you will be paying for ink and paper for a whole floor of freshmen.