Federal Way’s Citizen of the Month helps students go to college

Federal Way resident Charlie Hoff has dedicated himself to helping students find a path in expanding their knowledge of the college preparation and selection process.

Federal Way resident Charlie Hoff has dedicated himself to helping students find a path in expanding their knowledge of the college preparation and selection process.

Hoff hosts college information sessions once a month for students and their families. He dedicates the first hour for the “veterans,” those students/parents who have some knowledge of the college preparation/search process and another hour is dedicated to the “newbies,” those who are starting out on the process.

At the veteran meeting, Hoff is a facilitator, leading people to talk of their experiences in the college search and selection process, giving a chance for the attendees to learn from each others’ experiences and Hoff provides suggestions on approaches during the useful discussions. In the newbies session, he provides the new attendees with information on how to prepare for college, what college admissions representatives are looking for and how to get started with the college preparation process.

“It’s great whenever someone offers to help someone, and it’s even better when the volunteer is highly qualified in their knowledge and desire to share their experience in ways that can help someone for the rest of their life,” said Mark Bofenkamp, Hoff’s friend who nominated Hoff as the Mirror’s Citizen of the Month for January. “Mr. Hoff is a fine example of someone who has gone out of their way to help others and is highly deserving of recognition.”

Hoff said that while there is helpful college information support within the high schools from teachers and counselors, the high number of students needing service means it can be hard to give each student individualized attention.

“What kids need is the chance to see what is truly right for them, their financial situation and their interests,” he said. “When I moved out here around 1979, I discovered many kids just didn’t know what higher education options were available to them.”

In the past, Hoff worked as a college career counselor at an exclusive private school on the East Coast, associating with admissions officers who have taken positions with some of the top colleges in the country.

His knowledge of the importance of proper college preparation during the high school years is founded in his significant roles in bringing the Cambridge Program to the Federal Way school district, of helping development and implementation of the Federal Way Public Academy and serving as a past member and president of the Federal Way school board.

During his time on the board, he helped start free PSAT tests for freshman to help with early college readiness, among other efforts. Hoff has also been an invited speaker on the college preparation and admission process at Washington State School Director’s Association’s annual conferences.

“It’s very satisfying work,” Hoff said. “I like to see kids get something out of education because education has done wonders for me and helped me lead an interesting life. I like to see that others have similar opportunities.”

Hoff doesn’t promote specific colleges, he said it’s all about finding the best education for the student, to meet their capabilities and interests, and how they can prepare in high school to become a more attractive applicant for the colleges they desire to attend.

“I really want kids and parents to get involved in this early in a child’s life,” Hoff said. “There are so many opportunities, it’s unbelievable.”

Hoff said he also attends Federal Way school board meetings to promote helping kids that don’t go to college find jobs.

“I think schools should have partnerships with businesses that can provide chances for kids that don’t want to go to college,” he said. “Not everyone has the same dream, but everyone should have the chance to be successful and provide a good life for themselves.”

Hoff’s next seminar is at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, located at 26715 Military Rd. S. in Kent.