Modern distributions are shipping with udev/HAL, which makes automatic mounting of removable devices possible. Early distributions used a hodge-podge of different pieces of software to accomplish the same thing (to varying degrees of success), so it isn't surprising that the older Red Hat version doesn't automount.
To handle automatic mounting on a system that old, you will need to use autofs. autofs isn't exactly user-friendly, you will need to configure and run a daemon for it to work. If that is possible within the confines of your classes/school, then you should be fine.