Here is a link to a reputable bandwidth tester:http://www.dslreports.com/stest
Read the steps and run the test; I would suggest doing it several times over a 24 hour period, and from different server locations, to get an average speed. This will tell you what your upload and download speeds actually are. I would do this before the other things I suggested.
By reviewing what applications/programs that lauch on start-up and eliminating those you really do not need, you increase available processor usage. This might help reduce, depending on what you find, problems when using mutltiple programs at the same time.
The hardware/software question was directed towards giving me an understanding of what programs you use to establish a connexion, and what hardware you have (NIC card, for example). Some connexions to some ISPs will "time out" when not actively used for a certain length of time; you may wish to investigate this aspect with your ISP/and or your campus Internet office (it sounds like you have talked to the latter, but I just wanted to make sure).
Hope this helps some,