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An Open Letter to CLE Newcomers

by Mike Kolenda, Student, CLE Rockville

Dear CLE Newcomer

My name is Mike Kolenda. I’m a veteran student at College Living Experience. There’s a chance that you may be nervous about starting this program. Don’t worry, I was nervous too. Over time, I gained confidence, made some great friends, and had the time of my life at CLE. I’m writing to tell you how I adapted to the program so that you may have the chance to have a great opportunity like I did.

New student Justin B. receives the key to his apartment from center director Ric Kienzle

For CLE, the first couple of weeks may seem long, but use them to adapt to the program. Use these first couple of weeks to create friendships with others. I predict that the friends you make in those first couple of weeks will be the ones you are closest with. You don’t have to have a large number of friends. Just make some true friends that you are comfortable with. It’s better to have a few true friends than to have a lot of fake friends.

Get Social

I would advise you to do some social activities with your roommate outside of regular CLE outings. You can watch a movie, go to a hockey game, go out to dinner, or play some games. Make sure the both of you work together in harmony. A healthy apartment environment will make life easier for you at CLE.

Living in an apartment has its perks, such as not having your parents nagging over you to do stuff, but there are still guidelines to follow. If you want your Independent Living Skills sessions to go faster, make sure to pick up after yourself. It’s also wise to take care of your assignments for ILS at least a half hour before ILS is scheduled to start. It will make your time with ILS easier.


Staff is always around to help you out. Whether you’re going through a rough patch or whether you need advice with something, staff is around to give you feedback or to make you feel better. I can speak from experience with staff helping me out. On my second or third day at CLE, I had a chat with Scott (Dr. Scott Hykin), the Director of Psychological Services at CLE Rockville. Seeing me struggle, Scott gave me the best advice possible: think of CLE as your job. That moment was when I got motivated to do my best at CLE and made the staff my go-to place for advice. Staff will help you with college work, advice on your job, etc. Make sure that you maintain a very healthy relationship with them. Even if you don’t like some of the stuff they’re saying, take it to heart. You may never know when you will need some of the tips they give you.

I wish you the best with your time at CLE. For the year that I’ve been here already, I have had a great time that I will cherish. I hope you have the same experience that I did. Good luck.

Mike Kolenda

This has been a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.