What does a college student have that you don't have?! A credit card to book the hotel. You have bad credit and now you can't book a hotel room. Here are some choices.
Hotels have a dozen different policies on cancellation lead times. Where they are in aggrement is how they'd like their money. Hotels often "merchant pre authorization" your credit card. The problem is how to transfer a deposit amount to the hotel that is equivalent.
A real life situation that was encountered at a Hilton Hotel was booking a room with a debit card. Because many hotels book the first nights room rate on the card, the debit Visa card was charged and the amount reduced from the checking account.
Negotiate with the hotel manager. A manager can override the credit card requirement. A request via fax (on letterhead) that includes date of stay, cell phone number, home address and personal bank info should be sent to request a reservation. A business purpose helps too in reducing the deposit amount that the hotel is going to ask for.
Call in the early am. Manager's typically are ramping up and are near a phone. Don't call between 9am and 12noon. When you're sending a fax, think of it as applying for a hotel room. A professional head shot can't hurt if you have one. Your goal is to get a reduced (or best case ZERO) room deposit based on your "mini hotel room" application.
Do not berate the hotel for wanting money up front (when you book with a credit card, the hotel is 98% likely to collect your money). People with no credit card greatly increase the hotels risk in having you stay there.
Do be as helpful as possible. You're basically applying for a loan from the hotel. Make it easy for them to say yes.