Scholarships for Community College Students

Tom Savignano (center) with Community College Scholarship winners Kaylee Steiner (left) and Allen Lue (right) at the 2018 Dickens Universe. Community College Scholarships are made possible by the generous support of benefactors like Mr. Savignano

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 23-29, 2023. This summer, we will focus on one of the best-known novels of Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. 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 is 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 plan 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 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 before the August conference (2022-23) for no fewer than twelve-semester units total. Scholarship recipients must be at least 18 years old by July 15, 2023.

What Are the Application Requirements?

Completed applications must be received electronically no later than May 1, 2023. Winners will be notified by May 14, 2023, and by May 21, the Dickens Project must receive verification that the winner will be attending. Please note there is a swift turnaround where the student must register and enroll in the course before June 15, 2023, to receive UC credit for the course.

  1. The most important part of the scholarship application is an original critical essay on a work (or works) of British or American literature dating from 1789 to 1914. The essay must be five to eight double-spaced pages, following MLA paper format and documentation style. 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 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 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

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.

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



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