Come learn in America!
Norwegian-American Chuck Enge connects Norwegian students to American universities
By Christy Olsen Field
Norwegian American Weekly
Chuck Enge, a long-time high school English teacher and tennis coach, has found a way to combine his love of Norway and his innate ability to connect with high school kids: helping Norwegian students coming to the U.S. for college.
Coach Enge has proud Norwegian-American roots as the grandson of a Norwegian immigrant and a graduate of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. In 1989 Chuck and his wife applied for and were awarded a Fulbright scholarship to teach in a high school in Norway. They were assigned to Lillesand, a small town in southern Norway. As Coach reflects on that year: “We thought we had died and gone to Valhalla!” In their one year in Lillesand, the Enge’s made lifetime friendships and fell head over heels in love with Norway!
In his teaching and coaching career in the Chicago area, Enge has mentored hundreds of high school students in their college search. With over 3,500 colleges and universities in the U.S., it can be hard to find the right fit, especially from halfway across the world in Norway. Enge, who has visited over 750 colleges and universities in the U.S., has the experience with higher education and the unusal ability to get high school students to listen to him.
In 2004, Enge met with the Norwegian National Tennis Federation. After they decided that he could help guide Norwegian athletes to find the appropriate academic and athletic “niche” in U.S. schools, they wanted him onboard. Additionally, in following visits he was invited by the American Embassy in Oslo to give presentations to Norwegian students and their parents. He has made several appearances at college fairs in Norway.
His formula is simple: a two-hour PowerPoint presentation for Norwegian students and parents. In his presentation, he covers some of the basics required in the U.S., such as the ACT, SAT, and TOEFL tests, as well as the collegiate “Eligibility Center.” After Coach Enge’s careful in-person evaluation of both athletic skills and academic prowess, he prepares an extensive list of universities from which the individual may select. Enge’s reputation among college coaches is built on his impressive record of connecting student athletes with the right coaches and programs – from tennis players to swimmers.
“I’ve never sent someone to a college who cannot be a starter,” said Coach Enge.
Once a Norwegian student is committed to going to the U.S. for college, Chuck sits down with them to examine their personal views and academic strengths. He avoids the usual college search technique of selecting three or four schools, applying, visiting and making a decision. Instead, he identifies 20 – 25 colleges and universities that fits the student, and then directs them to narrow down the list by process of elimination.
Coach Enge does not believe in putting pressure on students to make a life’s career decision or to declare the major to match. Instead, he emphasizes following life experiences. “I tell the kids, ‘Don’t worry about what you’ll do. You will figure out something 10 years or so down the road as to what you are meant to do with your life.”
It’s a winning formula that Enge has developed years ago for helping Norwegian student athletes studying in the U.S. After making 10 visits to Norway in the last seven years, he is continually working on expanding his network in the Norwegian-American education and athletic circles. Each winter he spends many hours evaluating universites and preparing for his next trip to encourage Norwegians to consider the collegiate experience in America.
“This is the way I can pay it forward to Norway. My experience living over there has changed my whole life,” said Enge. “It is very important for all young adults live out of their own country. As a result, they learn about the world and they learn about themselves.”
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 24, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.