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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

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

Newsletter Articles – September 2016

Solomon at CLE Austin

Growth mindset is when people believe that their abilities can be developed and improved by doing harder work. On the contrary, a fixed mindset is when people believe and fix in their minds that they will never get better at something. With having a fixed mindset you give up easily, which consequently prevents you from doing more challenging things. Therefore, you cannot improve. For instance, if someone has a fixed mindset that they will fail a subject course like math, they will always fail it and get no better at it. I have a growth mindset, which is favorable. A growth mindset has helped me in everyday life.

CLE Denver

It is a wonderful time of year here in Denver. The mornings are a little cooler, the leaves are starting to get flecks of gold and we received a fresh crop of smiling, yet bewildered faces. It is fall, and new student orientation. Despite having two weeks of orientation, getting adjusted to new living situations, new roommates, new peers, new places, new study habits, new jobs, new foods and new noises is a LOT of work. First you have to figure out your CLE schedule, then you have to figure out your academic schedule, then you have to figure out where your focus group is held and what isle they keep your favorite snack mix in at the grocery store.

To help ease the learning curve, I spoke to a few veteran CLE students to find out how their lives might have been a little different starting at CLE if they “knew then what they know now.” So here is some advice from CLE Denver students with deep roots and the benefit of hindsight!

Rachel at CLE Davie

My first times: an interview with Rachel Preston, First Year CLE Student.

CLE Austin staff and students

Much to our students’ surprise, CLE staff have not had entirely perfect first experiences away from home or in college. I asked CLE Austin staff, if you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing during these pivotal transitions, what would it be?

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