Scholarships for Community College Students

"Dickens's Dream" painting by Robert W. Buss, courtesy of the Dickens Museum, and the original 'Great Expectations' manuscript courtesy of the Wisbech and Fenland Museum.

The Dickens Project's California Community College Scholarship Application Guidelines

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. This summer's dates are July 21-27, 2024. This summer, we will focus on one of Dickens's best-known novels, Great Expectations. Currently, the Project offers up to three scholarships per year. The scholarship award includes the cost of attending the conference and enrollment and registration fees. 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 can receive 5 UC quarter units of credit through UCSC's 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 plan to transfer to university major programs in English or the humanities. Scholarship applicants with a keen interest in 19th-century literature and culture and/or Dickens will probably get the most out of the Universe. Still, the Universe community always includes people with a wide array of literary interests.

To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must have enrolled at a California community college in the fall and spring semesters/quarters before the July conference (2023-24) for no fewer than twelve-semester units total. Scholarship recipients must be 18 years old by July 15, 2024.

What Are the Application Requirements?

Completed applications must be received electronically no later than May 1, 2024. Winners will be notified by May 7, 2024, and by May 14, the Dickens Project must receive verification that the winner will attend. Please note there is a swift turnaround where the student must register and enroll in the course before June 1, 2024, to receive UC credit.

  1. The most important part of the scholarship application is a piece of original writing: either an original critical essay on, or a creative reimagination/adaptation of, a work (or works) of British or American literature dating from 1789 to 1914. The essay or creative piece must be five to eight double-spaced pages. Any creative work must be accompanied by an additional 2-pg critical self-analysis in which you explain the connections between your creative work and the 19th-century text/texts with which it is in conversation. Essays and critical self-reflections should follow MLA paper format and documentation style and include a works cited list. Applications 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/creative work 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 form, including personal information, academic information, and essay (plus a 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 or American literature, and/or the Dickens Universe

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

For essays:

  • 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.

For creative work:

  • Clear and persuasive points of connection between your work and the 19th-century text(s) you're in conversation with
  • A critical analysis that compellingly describes the interpretive strategies and formal connections underlying the relationship between your work and the 19th-century text(s), as well as any critique of the 19th-century text(s) your reimagination offers
  • Creativity in your reimagination/reinterpretation/adaptation of the 19th-century text(s)
  • Logic, coherence, and lucidity in both creative and critical pieces

Students should only submit the most polished pieces of writing and are encouraged to work with their community college English instructors on refining the work as much as possible before submission.

Click here to download a PDF of the scholarship flyer.



See Also