As a GA at Geneva College, I work with Bible 300, a class focussed around worldview, culture, and calling. The students just finished with a section on vocation. One of the emphases of the unit is that calling is determined not by your station in life (what your father/mother does), but by your God-given gifts and talents. For some reason, in many students' minds this translates into: whatever makes you happy is what your calling is. Whatever you are talented at is what you are called to do. On further reflection, though, I'm not sure if this is the best standard to set up for students. Not that this is necessarily what is being taught, but it is what a large majority of students is coming away from the class with.
--you love something that you are not immediately 'talented'/'gifted' in?
--your talents have only been tried in one field, so that you don't know the various ways of vocational service?
--you don't have any dominant 'talents' or 'gifts'?
More so than these is the lack of a sense of place. Since I've graduated college my interests have changed. So have my wife's. She was a music business major. She loves music, she is starting a business. However, the further study of music is not her concern anymore. While in college, it was because of the possibility of going anywhere (place-less-ness) after college. Now, though, that she is rooted in Beaver Falls, her options there are limited. Not only that, but her sense of 'home' and 'place' are influencing her interests. She suddenly has a strong desire to know more about sociology, especially the New Urbanism and Localism. Her study of it isn't driven by grades, or necessarily monetary reward (even though this study is connected to our business), but by love of where she is and the desire to make an impact here in Beaver Falls. As students we both lacked this sense of place. In fact, I would set forth that this 'homelessness' that many collegiate students have paralyzes them in their choice of major and future career. Talents and gifts only matter when they are connected with a venue to use them: a home, a neighborhood, a place. Not only that, the place must be concrete, it must be local. Serving a nation is just abstract enough to mean nothing, same with serving the Church. Serving a neighborhood or a city or a countryside or a church does have meaning, since it is not a reified abstraction.
All of this, of course, has led me to wonder whether or not it is a good idea to start college at 17/18, when (in our culture) very few really have found their calling(s). I would be especially interested to hear what Derek would think, since he has started a new and important work with CPYU. More on this topic as it develops.