The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday September 28th

Column: (Re)introducing the Lesshead-Plain Scholarship

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There’s a new scholarship in town. It’s prestigious, but not snobby. It’s selective, but not inaccessible. It’s renowned, but not vain.

It’s called the Lesshead Scholarship. 

Like other UNC scholarships, students can apply for the Lesshead before entering their first year. Unlike other UNC scholarships, there’s only one requirement to qualify for the Lesshead — you have to be completely normal. 

If you’ve founded a billion-dollar charity, saved a starving village across the globe, won first place in a national spelling bee or solo traveled across Europe and learned 10 languages — you don’t qualify. If you struggled to find more than two extracurriculars in high school and you regularly eat, sleep, pee and poop — welcome to the club!

Where did this remarkable new scholarship come from, you might be wondering? Well, you’ll be surprised to find out that this scholarship isn’t new at all, but is nearly a century old. 

The Lesshead-Plain Foundation was formed in 1944, one year before the Morehead-Cain. Lenny Lesshead I and Liam Plain created their foundation with five two-dollar bills and a mission to help average UNC students feel successful and appreciated.

The scholarship was on the last step of its approval process and already had hundreds of potential applicants when along came its rival, its foil and the only thing that had the power to destroy it: the Morehead-Cain Foundation. 

Founded by John Motley Morehead III and paired with the construction of a one-of-a-kind planetarium, the Morehead was an immediate success. Within days, the Lesshead was completely overshadowed and nearly forgotten — its approval form neglected in the bottom drawer of the Chancellor’s desk for the last 80 years.

Luckily, my Daily Tar Heel press pass can get me into all kinds of sneaky places, and I managed to rescue the original Lesshead paperwork from that same dusty drawer in Kevin Guskiewicz’s building. (Okay fine, I wasn’t actually allowed to be in his office —please don’t tell my editor). 

I finally got a good look at the form and it was clear as day: the Lesshead-Plain Foundation had been signed off on by 1944 Chancellor Robert Burton House, but because of the Morehead’s immediate fame and fortune, it never even saw the light of day.

But now that it’s back, everyone’s curious about what this foundation has to offer. Below, I’ve listed out some of the guidelines of the scholarship that will make you want to apply faster than I can say “Lesshead." 

  • If you receive the scholarship, you are not allowed to talk about the fact that you’re a Lesshead within the first 10 minutes of conversation with a 'regular.' 
  • Instead of private study spaces, the Lesshead founders valued inclusivity and humility — so scholars have to study in campus libraries with the 'regulars.' 
  • When each scholarship class is posing for their composite headshots that will be posted on the Lesshead website and social media, they are required to make the goofiest face possible in front of the goofiest background possible. If the scholarship committee sees a headshot that could be considered even slightly acceptable for a LinkedIn profile picture — you’re out.
  • Scholars are strictly banned from having more than 100 LinkedIn connections. A great resume and a 500-person network just won’t cut it.
  • Lesshead Scholars are banned from befriending each other in order to repress any sense of superiority among students. If Lesshead scholars are seen chatting, laughing or hugging each other, they are punished by being locked in a room for 24 hours with five Moreheads. 
  • Many UNC scholarships are known for unique programs that pour money into students' pockets so they can do anything they want. But instead of sending students off on meaningful projects, Lesshead scholars are required to do something they don’t want to do every summer. The committee screens each applicant to identify their worst fears, and scholars then proceed to face them every summer to further humble whatever remains of their egos.

After reading what the Lesshead has to offer, there’s no way you could say no to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Just one caveat: instead of getting school and other expenses completely paid for, you have to pay double UNC’s regular tuition to ensure that you don’t feel superior to any other students.

This may not make much sense, seeing as the Lesshead is a "scholarship," but Lenny Lesshead I and Liam Plain wanted students to learn how to shoulder immense financial burdens early in life. 

(Looking back, there’s actually a small possibility that I accidentally mixed up the tuition costs for Lesshead scholars and out-of-state students. Whoops.)

Regardless, if you’re an average student applying for a UNC scholarship, Lesshead is the way to go. You won’t get the fame and glory that comes with other scholarships, but you will get some good old-fashioned character development as you come to terms with the fact that you are completely and utterly normal — and in debilitating levels of debt.

And if you ever find yourself doubting the merit of this scholarship, just remember their slogan: Less prestigious, less classist, less superior — Lesshead. 

@_hannahkaufman

opinion@dailytarheel.com

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