Program gives college students extra support

Almost 20 years ago, CLE (College Living Experience) was created to provide comprehensive assistance to students with a wide range of learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorder. Last fall they opened a CLE program in Skokie where students can go to get extra support.

Twenty-year-old Zachary Schimmel is a student at Oakton Community College. He is majoring in history. He comes to CLE four times a week.

"I have ADHD and Asperger's and OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder," Schimmel said. "Mainly what I do is like, they help me with home work, help me live on my own, like figuring out how to pay bills, maintain my house, stuff of that nature."

Although college provides support services to students with disabilities, for many it is not enough. Christine Anderson is the director of Skokie's CLE.

"We focus on three primary areas, it's the academic and the independent living skills and social skills," Anderson said. "They're here everyday for tutoring, they get as much tutoring as they need so that they can be successful in their class.

"The other pieces independent living skills that's done in their apartment and there they learn how to manage their money, how to take care of their apartment, how to grocery shop, how to take public transportation and the other pieces, the social skills, and that is done through the mentoring."

Asher Milenbach is also 20 and goes to Oakton Community College. He has been coming to CLE daily since they opened.

"They help me with tutoring. There's also some social aspects and just general help for college," Milenbach said. "I have a learning disability and visual processing and graph and motor. I'm really into computers and political science."

Milenbach's mom Lori Serber is pleased with her son's process

"I see that he is definitely getting more independent," Serber said.

Skokie's CLE currently has 16 students. They are hoping to have between 50 to 60 students.

"The price for the program is $33,500, which seems like a lot, but it is a 12 months program, and if you got the tutoring and the mentoring and the independent living skills and the social activities, if you did all that separately, it would be quite a bit more expensive," said Anderson. "We give intensive support so that the students can learn to become a functional, independent adults."

"I want him to have a great job and be totally happy," said Serber.

Students spend between four and six hours a day at CLE. They also have activities in the evening. For more information go to their website at They have six locations in the United States.

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