The iPad mini can fit in most pockets, so it might be easier to take with you. Then again, if you don't mind carrying it in your backpack, the full-size iPad works, too. The iPad also has a larger keyboard because of its larger screen.
For apps, here are some I would download, keeping in mind you would be using it in the school setting:
Keynote, Numbers and Pages. Each of these apps are $9.99 and together they make up the equivalent of Microsoft Office.
iBooks - A free app that will lighten your load by bringing textbooks to the iPad.
Keeping in mind that you cannot add more storage later, I would get nothing less than 32GB.
purchased several refurbished ipad2's....alll look new and come with 1yr warranty....and work perfectly. technically they use almost the same innards as the mini so expect the Apple ios updates NOT to make them useless in the foreseeable future.
They are bigger and heavier to carry than the mini....although we too the ipad round the world...but if you want a bargain then dive in for the ipad2......if you need convenience get the mini.
Games will have a bigger manipulative screen for games and wordprocessing.....enjoy!
Just though I'd let you know my experieinces and try to help you decide!
I have have just bought an iPad mini, and am about to sell my iPad 2 on ebay, and I have to say, I absoluelty love the mini. No regrets whatsoever!
It is so much more manageable. Its usable with one hand, weighs much less than th iPad 2 (about 1/2 as much), its about half the size, it fits into a pocket - dont have to take a bag out if I don't want to, it fits in my tiny bag that i usually just take my lunchbox and my kindle to work in.
Also, the screen is noticably more crisp, as it is the same resolution but smaller. The camera is noticably improved, and the speakers are probably about the same.
I loved typing on the iPad 2, I even wrote my final report on it for uni before i graduated! So far on the mini I've rattled off a few emails, and I havent noticably got more typos, but i do feel like i have to concentrate a little more. Its slightly more tricky than the iPad2, especiaily if you try and lay it on your knee to type, but on a desk, I'd say its a pretty similar experience. although for serious work I'll stil be using my macbook.
For light editing and note taking, its absolutely fine, and the other advtanges massively outweigh the iPad for me.
My only major worry is that the back of it (I have a black one) seems to be made of the same stuff as the iphone 5, and despite me being extremely careful with my iphone, it still has little scratches on the edges, and i think the iPad mini wil go the same way. The silver back on the ipad, and on the white mini doesnt have this problem.
As for storage, i just went for 16GB. I think the prices apple charges for extra storage is ludicrous! I have all my music on my iPhone (which, completely contrary to my previous statement I did pay extra for more storage haha) and if i watch anything on it, then i just stream it. Unless your going to download huge 3D games (e.g. infinity blade, GTA etc) or you want more than 4-5 movies on it at once, I think 16gb will be all that you need.