When I was in college, I attempted to sort of game the credit card system... and it worked, recently, when I rented an apartment, they checked my credit, and found that my credit was about 780. It's so ridiculously high for a young guy like me that they didn't even ask me to put down a security deposit. It was awesome.
The key to understanding credit cards is knowing that credit checks and such sit on your account for only 4 years. If you apply for some student credit cards as a freshman, by the time you graduate, you'll have 1) established good credit, and 2) you'll have no record of your credit scheming. It's pretty awesome.
Not only that, since credit cards have rewards, you can accumulate some good ones if you are strategic about picking a good card. Check out some of these student credit card reviews. These were incredibly helpful for me when I was trying to figure out which credit cards to apply for as a student.