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Education Expert: Paying for College is Possible if you Start Planning Early

Charlie Hoff, whose experience includes serving on the school board of the Federal Way School District, offers a free seminar at Thunder Mountain Middle School this week about how you can get a jump start on the road toward higher education for your child

"Getting your child a quality education is not a spectator sport."

That's the message Charlie Hoff gave us when we contacted him via email this week. Hoff is holding a  at Thunder Mountain Middle School Thursday night during which he'll share how to prepare for your child's college education.

The point, then, is that parents want to be hands-on when it comes not only to ensuring your children are passing muster academically but also in hunting down every financial assistance opportunity there is to fund their higher education.

In fact, that's the reason the seminar is geared towards the families of students in 8th through 10th grades. According to a promotional flyer for the event, Hoff believes the earlier families start preparing for college, the more opportunities they will have for getting financial assistance in the best schools in the country.

And in his response to Patch, Hoff said that some of the uninformed choices made in the middle school years can sometimes serve to eliminate some often attractive options later on. It's best to learn about options now in order to keep them open.

Hoff is a former School Board Director in the Federal Way School District. He has been a community college instructor as well as a deputy superintendent and college admissions director. 

We asked Hoff a couple of quick questions about education in general, and here's what he had to share:

What's the biggest misconception you hear about what parents think are the important components of getting a child in to college? Or what do you think most parents neglect in that process that they really shouldn't?

Hoff: They believe that someone else is going to do the research and preparation for their child. Guidance counselors have little training in this and over 400 students.  

Why start in middle school? 

Hoff: Some of the choices made here will eliminate some often attractive options.

Do you think the state education system is properly preparing students for college, i.e. graduation requirements.

Hoff: Not even close.  This doesn't seem to be on the radar screen. 

How important are AP classes in impressing a college admissions board?

Hoff: These are the only classes where the scores/grades are relevant. Grade inflation in most high schools has caused admissions personnel to look strickly at AP and SAT results. 

Why should parents come out to hear you this week?

Hoff: This state is one of the worst in college admission and college completion.  It is the result of a lack of focus on these issues. 

Hoff's seminar takes place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19 at Thunder Mountain Middle School. to view the event on the Patch calendar.

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