Scholarships for Community College Students

Tom Savignano (right) with Community College Scholarship winner Joshua Commander at the 2011 Dickens Universe. Community College Scholarships are made possible by the generous support of benefactors like Mr. Savignano.

Application Deadline Extended to May 31, 2019

Realizing the importance of community colleges in the California higher education system, the Dickens Project offers scholarships that sponsor students from California community colleges to attend the Dickens Universe. The dates for this summer are July 14-20, 2019, and the featured novel is Barnaby Rudge. Currently, the Project offers up to three scholarships per year. The scholarship award includes the cost of attending the conference (conference registration, campus accommodations, and food), as well as a travel stipend of up to $200 (on a sliding scale depending on the winner’s proximity to Santa Cruz). In addition to the general program of Universe events, the scholarship recipient attends the undergraduate seminar, which meets daily Monday through Thursday during Universe week. The scholarship recipient is also eligible to receive 5 UC quarter units of credit through UCSC Summer Session (upon completion of course assignments).

2011 scholarship winner Joshua Commander on the Dickens Universe

"The Dickens Universe has, in a word, changed my life. The Dickens Universe’s appeal for the transfer-bound community college student lies not only in scholastic enlightenment and activity; it is also fun. While I learned more about Great Expectations during this one week than I did from all my previous readings of it combined—thanks to the brilliant lectures, group discussions, and activities—I also enjoyed excellent food and lodging, a variety of social gatherings, and the lovely UC Santa Cruz campus."

View Josh's full story here 

Who is Eligible for the Dickens Universe Scholarship?

Attending the Dickens Universe is an especially stimulating experience for community college students who are planning to transfer into university major programs in English or the humanities. Certainly, scholarship applicants should have a keen interest in 19th-century literature and culture and in Dickens.

To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must have been enrolled at a California community college in both the fall and the spring semesters/quarters prior to the August conference (2018-19) for no fewer than twelve semester units total. Scholarship recipients must be at least 18 years old by June 30, 2019.

What Are the Application Requirements?

Completed applications must be received electronically no later than May 31, 2019 (Deadline Extended). Winners will be notified by June 14, 2019, and by June 21, the Dickens Project must receive verification that the winner will be attending.

  1. The most important part of the scholarship application is an original critical essay on a work (or works) of British literature dating from 1789 to 1914. Essay must be five to eight double-spaced pages, following MLA paper format and documentation style. They must be submitted electronically as one of the following file types: .pdf .doc .docx .rtf via the Google Form (linked below).
  2. The application essay must be accompanied by a signed statement from a California community college instructor on college letterhead verifying that the work is the student’s own. (A letter of recommendation is not required). In addition, we will upload application essays to, an anti-plagiarism database.
  3. Submit the completed Google from, including personal information, academic information, and essay (plus signed statement).
  4. (Optional) Applicants may include a cover letter within the essay section of the form, explaining their interest in Dickens, 19th-century British literature, and/or the Dickens Universe

Essays will be judged by a committee including both university professors and community college instructors, based on the following criteria:

  • Argument: strength, development, support, critical acumen
  • Formal structure: clarity, focus, coherence, organization
  • Stylistic effectiveness
  • Adherence to standard rules of English grammar and usage, as well as to MLA documentation style and paper format.

Only the most polished essays should be submitted, and students are encouraged to work with their community college English instructors on refining the essays as much as possible before submission.


Help Spread the Word about this Unique Opportunity

View the 2019 informational flyer

See Also