I know what you guys mean about the micro-amp and speakers thing, but I've given that quest up for a couple reasons. First, that's not a "portable" solution, and anybody in college who is listening to not-portable music is probably streaming it through the computer (which makes the iPod integration redundant). Second, there are good values to be had on powered speakers, which is a more elegant (and probably less costly) approach than 3 boxes.
Which powered speakers are you looking at? Elegant, maybe, but flexibility is nice, too.