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Because You're Not Above Brownie Points

Midterms bring out the ugly in all of us, and one of the ugliest of truths is that we feel compelled to suck up. You may not want to admit it - you may do it yourself and still hate others for doing it better than you - but regardless: when you're sitting the library for hours on end, feeling more and more disillusioned about your worth as a student, you undoubtedly feel the urge to accrue as many brownie points as possible. (Or is that just me?)

The problem with brown-nosing is that even if it may come from a desperate place, we never want it to look desperate. Thus the true art of the sycophant involves so much subtlety that even your professor should not be conscious it's occurring. Have no fear: I've developed a simple method that is embarrassment-free. It's sucking up, without the "suck."

  1. Note subject matter of class or preferably, the material you have to study for an exam or write about for a paper.
  2. Search for said subject matter in Google. Look for articles relating, however concomitantly, to the material. Pay extra attention to websites like the New York Times, CNN, BBC or PBS.com. The more legit-sounding, the better. Same goes for a recent date of publication.
  3. E-mail the article to the professor. I suggest body text like: "I saw this and thought you'd be interested!" or "I was doing research for ________ and came across this gem. Just wanted to pass it along!" But if you're feeling particularly sycophantic, try this: "I stumbled upon this and had to send it your way. This part ________ is particularly interesting and relates to __________ that you mentioned in class the other day. It really reminds me why I've enjoyed this class so much!"
  4. Congrats! You've successfully brown-nosed.
The reason this method is sans humiliation is because it makes you look like you have a love of learning for the sake of learning. Your professors cannot fault you that. True, your unquenchable intellectual curiousity may lead to teasing if your friends discover your habit of emailing those who just happen to grade you. But I think we can agree that it's much better to be called a nerd than a grademonger.

Because nerds, after all, get good grades too.