Joey might've had the most depth of any of the characters in the original, now that you mention it. Or at least, his character was less static, which made him kind of interesting. Was that fanfic tagged with any sort of warning label? Usually they are, but that might be a more recent distinction.
To me, it's better than high school, since you get to focus more on classes and subjects you're actually interested in. The work load gets kind of hectic, but it seems like the actual atmosphere on campus is more relaxed, if that makes sense. And if you can get your schedule to give you only classes on three or two days, it's awesome. So you'd like to double major in those two subjects? That's a pretty interesting combination. ^^ I haven't taken an art course yet, but for science, I think most colleges will have you doing labs relatively late, around 2-5 PM.
I actually thought it looked really stupid before I forced myself to watch it, so I get the apprehension people have over it. ^^;
Around episode 26 though, things get pretty exciting. And Yuma isn't nearly as annoying a main character as he appears initially.
I've never actually watched Star Driver. I'm guessing it's pretty good?