I am wondering what brand and what specs I should be looking for if I'm pursuing to use it as a school student typing up stuff, photoshop etc while also downloading and watching movies and maybe play the occasional game of cs go. Possibly being taken to school so hopefully compact and lightweight.
Aim for the MSI/ASUS laptops thats roughly 15". While they cost more the build quality on them are superb, some models will have amazing specs, and sometimes dual drives such as a faster SSD for programs and start up and then an HDD for larger storage. But know that prices for models like those are in the ballpark of $1200+
If your budget is moreso around $1000, then consider the Lenovo Y50s. Still a good machine, kinda reliable, but decently spec'd for the price you're paying for them.
Specs, I'd say go for the i5-M or the i7-Q series of CPUs if you want something powerful, otherwise the i5-U or i7-U are more common and better on battery life.
6-8 GB of RAM is pretty much solid and you'll be fine with that amount for quite sometime.
For Video card, try to shoot for GTX 860M or better (probably won't find better but still), will ensure you can play a bunch of games.
As for storage Hybrid Drive > 7200 RPM HDD > 5400 RPM HDD > SSD should be your drive priority. You might go "What? Why is SSD the lowest on the list?" You did say you were gonna be downloading and watching movies as well as playing games. SSDs aren't big, you're gonna fill up fast. A hybrid drive or a 7200 RPM HDD is recommended in this case, most of them will be about 750 GB or 1 TB so you'll have room.
The biggest factor for how good a laptop is though, is your luck. If you have amazing luck with a computer, might never have an issue. If your luck sucks, pray you don't get the busted one? (Some people have these Acers or HPs that seem to die amazingly fast, whereas some people can have the same brand and have them last years, can be applied to all brands, not just acer/hp)