If you are currently using any flavor of the "ACM" (Arimba Connection Manager) software, I'd recommend uninstalling it.
I'd also recommend uninstalling your current driver for your Intel wireless adapter, and then installing this Vista driver set directly from Dell. It's from mid-November of 2007, only nine weeks ago or so, and might help --- https://support.dell.com/support/down...&fileid=233385
--- follow the setup instructions as prompted. (*Note that the initial installation instructions are on the same webpage as the download*).
Once you have that package installed, test your connections. Should you continue to have difficulty, there is a wireless patch specifically for your model, and specifically for your wireless adapter: --- https://support.dell.com/support/down...&fileid=217662
I think that the 2nd patch has an excellent chance of helping significantly.
Remember, that when you are setting up your connections, you won't be choosing Ad Hoc, but Infrastructure. Your connections should also be enabled for Mixed modes, as the Arimba device is a 802.11b
device, whereas other WiFi on campus is likely to be 802.11g
. Your Intel adapter is able to do all four currently available 802.11 modes --- a/b/g/n.
To the networks that you most often connect to, you can set your laptop to automatically detect. Whether you connect using Vista's builtin Wireless utility, or use an Intel tool included in the driver download, you can usually set your adapter to automatically connect when in range -- you can store any necessary usernames and passwords, or SSID data and passkeys.
I think you might want to try using Vista's version of the Wireless "Zero Configuration Utility" first, and if that doesn't work well, try using the Intel Utility. Here's the only guide Dell provides for your adapter (which covers the settings in XP ... but the settings are similiar enough in Vista that you should be able to fudge your way through). --- https://support.dell.com/support/edoc...n/utilintc.htm
Best of luck
. . . Gary