Better (and easier to stay awake through) than an introductory course on U.S. constitutional history, "The College Student's Guide to the Law" (Taylor Trade Publishing, $14.95) is a helpful handbook for keeping your record clean -- in and out of the classroom.

Above all else, author C.L. Lindsay III, a student-rights advocate and educational law scholar, stresses the importance of knowing your rights. Sound advice abounds on subjects such as arguing grades, throwing a police-free party and avoiding plagiarism. For example, you may think that handing in the same paper for two separate classes is a time-saving strategy, but it's actually a serious example of academic dishonesty called "dovetailing."

Readers are likely to get bogged down in some of the chapters -- the Cliffs Notes version of Torts 101 this ain't. Case in point? There are 11 pages devoted to avoiding animal dissections in your science classes. But Lindsay tempers his advice with plenty of wisecracks (one section is titled "Step Off, Biyatch: Getting Your Landlord to Respect Your Privacy"), which just may set him apart from your overly serious professors.

Holly Thomas

Book cover for The College Student's Guide to the Law.