Public perception is that tall people are more powerful and commanding than their shorter counterparts. While this can sometimes be true, tall folks have to pay their college tuition like everyone else. Luckily, scholarships for tall people do exist, and they can help defray the ever-rising costs of higher education.
Is It Hard to Find Scholarships for Tall People?
While scholarships for tall people aren’t commonplace, they’re more readily available than those offered to short individuals. During my search, I located one national and two regional scholarships, and even more may be available to the determined Internet browser. The size of these scholarships range from $250 to $1000, which can make a big difference when it comes to buying textbooks or covering lab fees.
The Tallest Man and Woman in History
The tallest man in recorded history is Robert Wadlow, who was sometimes known by the nickname of the “Giant of Illinois.” Due to an irregularity in his pituitary gland, he was already 6’6” by the age of 10. He stood 8’3” upon graduating college, and he was 8’11” upon his death in 1940 at the age of 22. He became a celebrity thanks to tours with the Ringling Brothers Circus, although his size resulted in numerous health problems and ultimately led to his demise.
The honor of being the tallest woman who ever lived goes to Zeng Jinlian, a Chinese citizen who stood 8’1” tall by her death in 1982 at the age of 17. She was the only woman to ever grow over 8’, although her deformed spine would not allow her to stand upright. By the age of 13, she was already 7’1”.
Tallest NBA Players
Professional basketball is known for tall players, with the average height of an NBA star being 6’7”. However, some participants stand head and shoulders above the rest. The two tallest players were Gheorghe Muresan and Manute Bol. Both were measured at 7’6 ¾” by representatives of the Guinness Book of World Records, although Muresan was considered to be taller by the slightest of margins.
Bol’s career stretched from 1985 until 1994, and he’s the only player in NBA history to have more blocked shots than points scored. In an unusual twist, his stint with the Washington Bullets saw him play alongside the 5’3” Muggsy Bogues, who happens to be the shortest player to ever suit up. A great humanitarian off the court, Bol died in 2010 of acute kidney failure.
The Romanian-born Muresan played in the NBA from 1993 to 2000, and his extreme size was the result of a pituitary disorder. In addition to playing basketball, he co-starred in the film My Giant with Billy Crystal and appeared in Eminem’s breakout “My Name Is” video.
Are People Taller Today?
For about the last 140 years, the human race has been getting taller. This is due to two primary factors. First, improved dietary intake allow the body to grow more efficiently. Second, advances in medical technology have resulted in fewer diseases, so bodies can concentrate on growing instead of fighting various ailments.
The availability of nutritious food and decent economic circumstances also play a factor. The better you eat, the better your body will be able to grow. This can be overdone, however, which is part of the reason why Americans are no longer the tallest folks around. Obesity can affect the hormonal system and result in too many growth hormones being produced prior to puberty. This leads to the peak height being reached earlier than someone who follows proper nutritional guidelines.
Tall Clubs International Student Scholarships
Tall Clubs International is a non-profit organization with over 50 associated clubs and more than 2000 members. The first such organization, known as the California Tip Toppers Club, was founded in 1938 by Kae Sumner, an artist who ironically once made a living painting dwarves for Walt Disney.
To qualify for their annual scholarships (known as the “Kae Sumner Einfeldt Scholarship Award,” you must be under 21 years of age, attending your first year of college, and meet the TCI height requirements (6’2″ for men and 5’10″ for women). Scholarship amounts can go as high as $1000.
If you are interested in applying, you’ll need to email the TCI club nearest you. If you can demonstrate adequate academic and civic-minded excellence, then you may be able to obtain sponsorship from the club. Just keep in mind that you’ll be competing against sponsored students from other clubs around the nation, so the competition can be fierce.
Sharon Heater Memorial Scholarship
Offered each year by the Sacramento Tall Club (which is affiliated with Tall Clubs International), the Sharon Heater Memorial Scholarship awards financial assistance to deserving tall students who are finishing their senior year in high school. In addition to the usual application and height requirements, applicants will also be required to write an essay titled “What Being Tall Means to Me.” Their official site contains information on all previous winners, as well as copies of their essays.
Central Arizona Tall Society Scholarship Program
The Central Arizona Tall Society (C.A.T.S.) has been awarding scholarships to tall high school seniors since 1991. A $250 award is given out each year, and winners also become eligible for the $1,0000 scholarship offered by Tall Clubs International. Once applications have been submitted, a number of finalists will be chosen for personal interviews and height confirmation by the scholarship committee. The deadline for application is March 1st.
Being tall is pretty cool to begin with, but it’s even better when you consider that it can allow you to get free money for college. Scholarships for tall people aren’t common, but there are enough available to make it worth your while. The next time you look down at someone while shaking their hand, you just might be picking up your diploma.
by Shane Rivers